At The Festival: Racing to Glory at Cheltenham by Richard Austen

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If you love Cheltenham you will love At The Festival. Racing is blessed with some very fine writers but I doubt there will be a better book this year.” Irish Field (Ian Carnaby)

"If this marvellous book were a horse it might win a Gold Cup, you know.” Racing Post (Steve Dennis)

At The Festival has been named in The Independent’s Christmas 2015 list for “The best 9 books in sport”

Racing Post and former Timeform journalist Richard Austen relives racing history being made in a series of races at the Cheltenham Festival from 1981 to 1991. Starting with his own boyhood connection to the top-class hurdler Birds Nest, he reveals the epic and moving stories behind some of the most celebrated horses in Festival history and others, equine and human, who beat the odds to play leading roles on one of the greatest stages in sport.

With a Foreword by John Francome, At The Festival is guided by vivid testimonies from the leading players and the author’s own position as an eyewitness and an informed but sometimes partisan racegoer. The book describes what it takes to achieve Festival success and what it means to those who have done it, in the face of danger and sometimes of tragedy.

There are starring roles for some of the sport’s great characters, including Brod Munro-Wilson, David Nicholson, Charmian Hill, John Mulhern, Richard Holder and Sirrell Griffiths.

At The Festival casts major new light on the famous 1986, 1989 and 1990 Gold Cups but the Festival experience is about far more than just the Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle, so this book also tells the stories behind an unforgettable duel in the Foxhunter, two Triumph Hurdles, one of the best ever renewals of the Arkle, an Irish hero in the Stayers’ and a triumph for the underdog in the County Hurdle.

Cheltenham’s success is founded on the knowledge that the stories played out there can become racing legends. Stories such as these.


John Francome: “Brilliant! I cannot believe how much effort, research and skill has gone into this book

Lydia Hislop: “He writes with rare skill, combining poetry and precision. This book has the power to delight racing fans and inform others of the richness of experience they are missing.”

Graham Cunningham: "A compelling account of some of the Festival's greatest races. Older fans of the Festival will adore it; younger converts will lap it up.

Peter Savill “I thoroughly enjoyed it and I cannot believe that any racing enthusiast would not enjoy the book.

European Bloodstock News (Alastair Nicolson): At The Festival: "A masterpiece"