Showing posts from March, 2014

50th anniversary book recalls the legend of Arkle, the greatest Cheltenham Gold Cup winner

This week's Cheltenham Festival marks the 50th anniversary of the first Gold Cup victory achieved in a hat-trick of wins by the brilliant Irish steeplechaser, Arkle, a horse widely acknowledged as the greatest ever to race under National Hunt rules. Arkle, trained in County Meath by the late Tom Dreaper, won the Cheltenham Gold Cup three times (1964, 1965 and 1966) and the Hennessy Gold Cup twice as well as the King George VI Chase, the Whitbread Gold Cup and the Irish Grand National. Despite regularly conceding vast weight to rivals in handicaps, he was beaten only four times in 26 steeplechases. It would doubtless have been more had he not been injured in the 1966 'King George' at Kempton Park, after which he was retired, at the age of only nine years. He was ranked by the Timeform organisation as the best steeplechaser of all time, with a rating of 212 – 20 pounds superior to the current jumping superstar Sprinter Sacre. Kauto Star, who won the Cheltenham Gold Cu

Ian Redford: A tragic end to a tragic life for the Scottish footballer only weeks after telling his harrowing story

Ian Herbert wrote a moving column in The Independent the other day reflecting on the life and premature death of the footballer Ian Redford, who played for six clubs in Scotland and, in England, for Ipswich Town.  He made more than 200 appearances for Rangers and scored the winning goal for Dundee United against Borussia Monchengladbach in the semi final of the Uefa Cup semi final in 1987. Redford, who struggled with depression after the end of his playing career, was found dead in a woodland area near his home in Irvine, Ayrshire, in January this year.  He was 53. Last autumn, his autobiography, entitled Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, was published by Black and White Publishing , a Scottish publisher specialising in books about Scotland or Scottish people.  He had written every word himself. The first draft, he recalled in his introduction, ran to more than 200,000 words, such was his drive to set down every detail. It was, he said, an enormously cathartic process, enabl

After 75 years, tennis great Rod Laver at last admits he has a story worth telling

TENNIS BOOKS TO LOOK OUT FOR IN 2014 Given that barely a sniff of success is justification for an autobiography in today's commercially-driven world, it is extraordinary that one of tennis's all-time great players has taken until his 75th year to get around to telling his story. Rod Laver: A Memoir , published in Australia last year by Pan Macmillan, is due to appear in UK book shops in June this year. The publisher described the book as an inspiring story of how the diminutive, left-handed, red-headed country boy became one of Australia's greatest sporting champions, a dominant force in world tennis for almost two decades.  Among more than 200 singles titles Laver won -- a record unsurpassed -- was the unique achievement of winning the Grand Slam twice, in 1962 and 1969. Laver's nature was always to be modest, however, which might explain why he never felt compelled to remind everyone of what he had done in a full autobiography.  A humble man, he said he an