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  • John Murray
  • John Murray

Mr Darley's Arabian: High Life, Low Life, Sporting Life: A History of Racing in 25 Horses: Shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award

Christopher McGrath

8 Reviews

Rated 0

Prose: non-fiction, General & world history, Horses & ponies, Horse racing

The story of racing told through the bloodline of twenty-five exceptional horses.

Shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award

In 1704 a bankrupt English merchant sent home the colt he had bought from Bedouin tribesmen near the ruins of Palmyra. Thomas Darley hoped this horse might be the ticket to a new life back in Yorkshire. But he turned out to be far more than that: and although Mr Darley's Arabian never ran a race, 95% of all thoroughbreds in the world today are descended from him. In this book, for the first time, award-winning racing writer Christopher McGrath traces this extraordinary bloodline through twenty-five generations to our greatest modern racehorse, Frankel.

The story of racing is about man's relationship with horses, and MR DARLEY'S ARABIAN also celebrates the men and women who owned, trained and traded the stallions that extended the dynasty. The great Eclipse, for instance, was bred by the Duke who foiled Bonnie Prince Charlie's invasion (with militia gathered from Wakefield races) and went on to lead the Jockey Club. But he only became a success once bought and raced by a card-sharp and brothel-keeper - the racecourse has always brought high and low life together.

McGrath expertly guides us through three centuries of scandals, adventures and fortunes won and lost: our sporting life offers a fascinating view into our history. With a canvas that extends from the diamond mines of South Africa

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Praise for Mr Darley's Arabian: High Life, Low Life, Sporting Life: A History of Racing in 25 Horses: Shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award

  • A racing book like no other - a book of remarkable scope - Robin Oakley, The Spectator

  • Erudite, wry and astute . . . extraordinary horses and a rich seam of cultural history woven into a fascinating book - Melanie Reid, The Times, Book of the Week

  • A racy gallop . . . Christopher McGrath offers a teeming, colourful survey of these many stories - Observer

  • McGrath is a sports writer, one of the finest and most certainly one of the most under-appreciated of this generation. He tells stories with gentle understatement and has a fine understanding of racing and its diverse community . . . Immense attention to detail - Sunday Times

  • A vivid, sweeping history of impressive scope. McGrath's eye for a story and eloquent turns of phrase will delight - Racing Post

  • Did I think I'd end up missing the whole of the Euro 2016 final in order to finish Chris McGrath's recently-published Mr Darley's Arabian? By no means, but I guess it's just that kind of book - Sporting Life

  • A good story . . . McGrath is an award-winning journalist . . . at his best when he is conveying his love of racing - Literary Review

  • A fascinating tale . . . Very well written, its narrative racing along effortlessly - as you might expect of a thoroughbred author - Coventry Telegraph

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Christopher McGrath

Chris McGrath was racing correspondent at the Independent for seven years and has won multiple awards, including racing journalist of the year. This is his first book.

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