Thursday, 27 February 2014

The White Turf

This has to be my picture of the week, jockey and Markel Ambassador, Lucy Alexander riding in the White Turf at St Moritz last Sunday.

Lucy comes second on Winston Rocket
First staged in 1907, the event is held every year in February racing on the frozen ice at St Moritz.
Lucy came second in the third round of the 1600m HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubrak Ladies World Championship IFAHR riding Winston Rocket trained by Swedish trainer, Camilla Nillson. It was the first ever Ladies race held on the White Turf.

The event attracts crowds of more than 30,000 and is a magnet for the rich and famous across Europe. The cards are a mixture of Flat races, Trotting races and also a unique discipline known as Skikjoring, which is a trotting race in which the riders are pulled along on skis! 

Markel were absolutely thrilled to see Lucy's picture (in her branded breeches) across many of the papers - the best form of sponsorship in picturesque action! 

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

New beginnings...

2013 was a rather hectic year for me both personally and professionally (thus my lack of blog communication!) but 2014 has already got off to a racing start and I am excited and inspired by the projects on the horizon.

Last year Racing Post Books was fortunate to publish two great titles in Brough Scott’s Henry Cecil: Trainer of Genius and Jamie’s Reid’s Doped: The True Story of the 1960’s Racehorse Doping Gang.  The former was highly acclaimed as one of best racing books ever - with sales to match the accolades – and the latter won us the prestigious William Hill Sports Book of the Year award.  For a small publisher this is a real achievement and we were all thrilled that this came to pass.

The Racing Post team and author Jamie Reid celebrate our big win!
I have worked with the team at the Racing Post for six years now and frankly you could not find more dedicated, motivating and simply, nicer people.  In addition to the 40 or so annuals we publish, our challenge is to continually sustain the momentum of a strong books ‘pipeline’ and as we go into 2014 we have the bit between our teeth and some exciting titles lined up.  These include a book with the world’s number one eventer, Andrew Nicholson,  and with the horse whisperer, Gary Witheford.  I can’t wait to get out and about in the autumn to attend some of the equestrian events as our promotional vehicle kicks into gear and I expect we’ll plan a few big ‘demos’ with Gary so he can showcase his work in action.  I’ve seen him at work a few times, and visited him at home last week, and am personally inspired to learn more about what he does and how he does it.  I’ve already practised a few of the techniques he uses on my own horses (with some success!), and I hope – and think – that the book we are doing with him, will have a huge impact in the equestrian world.

A foray away from racing will also be the backdrop for a few of the Injured Jockeys Fund’s 50th anniversary events as in 2014 the IJF will be the official charity of both Olympia in December and the Barbury Horse Trials in July.  At both these events we will host some kind of ‘Jockey’s Challenge’ (all to be revealed!) and it is going to be a tremendous amount of fun putting some of our top jockeys in front of big crowds to see how they get on in ‘Prince Philip Cup’ style activities!!  A list of all the IJF’s planned events are viewable at and every race course in the country will also host some kind of IJF race day to celebrate 50 years of the Fund.  It is a hugely important year for the IJF with a programme of awareness raising activities, the climax of which will be the opening of Jack Berry House in the autumn, the eagerly awaited respite and rehab centre – and the north’s equivalent of Oaksey House in Lambourn.

Jack Berry starts work at Jack Berry House with injured jockey Brian Toomey
As well as more projects for The Bob Champion Cancer Trust, I am working again on the Martin Wills Writing Awards and this year we have added a new prize for the overall winner of a ‘Literary Lunch’ with Jilly Cooper.   I’ll also be involved in the 2014 Mongol Derby and a fascinating WW1 project with the sculptor Philip Blacker. 

So I am set for a busy year but am planning to update this blog on a more regular basis with some snippets and pictures of the fascinating people I meet and the extraordinary places my work takes me…

On a personal note, and after a recent move up onto the Cranborne Chase in the depths of Wiltshire, my ‘leisure’ year is set to be pretty taken up with my two ex-racehorses, ‘Lords’ and ‘Troopy’.  They are both coming along in leaps and bounds (although these days not literally!) and I shall be starting to get them out and about competing, albeit at a very low level!!  

There is an undeniable pleasure having my horses this close to home!