Cheltenham is the Mecca of jumps racing; Mick Fitzgerald is one of the most admired and popular jockeys of recent generations, whose many big-race victories include the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Cheltenham World of Jump Racing, published by the Racing Post, brings together the two to celebrate jump racing in all its moods as the vibrant, compelling, irresistible sport that it is.
With an illuminating foreword by Edward Gillespie, Managing Director of Cheltenham, Mick invites us to enter his world and takes us through the pattern of the jumping year, its best races, chases, courses and horses with the characteristic candour and humour that made Mick’s previous book, Better Than Sex, a best-seller.
“Racegoers absolutely love the variety and so do the jockeys”, Mick highlights as he gives us a fascinating insight into how a jockey rides each course; why (despite the common view) Kempton is the closest you get to a trial track for Cheltenham; and why courses like Wincanton are the most difficult in the country and therefore should have a sign ‘good horses only should race here’! Mick also takes in the Irish tracks and writing about the Listowel festival, the epitome of the craic, remarks with his wry wit: “The track is very tight – and so, as the last race approaches, are many of the racegoers.”
Mick looks at how a jump jockey learns to think during the pressure of a race and at the best in this golden era – AP, Ruby, Dunwoody, Francome – and the particular skills that made them so good. He also considers the most famous equine heroes from the supreme dominance of Arkle -“Himself” – via Red Rum, Dawn Run and Desert Orchid to the modern day greats of Kauto Star and Denman.
Illustrated with amazing pictures throughout, the majority by award-winning Racing Post photographer Edward Whitaker, The Cheltenham World of Jump Racing conveys the unique passion and atmosphere of this golden sport.
Cheltenham World of Jump Racing, by Mick Fitzgerald with Sean Magee. Published by Racing Post Books, 29th September, priced £25.
Born in Cork in May 1970, Mick Fitzgerald rode his first winner at Ludlow in December 1988, and before long had established himself as one of the top jump jockeys in Britain. He won the Grand National on Rough Quest in 1996 and the Cheltenham Gold Cup and King George VI Chase on See More Business in 1999. A bad fall in the 2008 Grand National caused his premature retirement from race-riding, at which point he was the fifth most successful jump jockey in history, having ridden 1,304 winners. He has embarked on a new career as a television and radio presenter and pundit, working for At The Races, Radio 5 Live, BBC1 and Channel 4.