Little Book of Cheltenham by Catherine Austen

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For fans, National Hunt racing has only one home: Cheltenham. The racecourse, which occupies a perfect natural amphitheatre with Cleeve Hill as a dramatic backdrop, is frequently described as “the theatre of dreams”. The four-day Festival in March has become the pinnacle of ambition for trainers, jockeys and owners. To win there is everything. For punters, months of speculating, planning and wagering climax in fortunes won or lost. Horse-lovers watch, hearts racing, as their favourites soar over the birch and gallop up the famous hill to the finish. The passion expressed in the roar as the tapes go up for the first race of the meeting epitomises how they all feel about Cheltenham.

The Little Book of Cheltenham explores the history of this iconic racecourse and charts its progression from the first Gold Cup – a Flat race run on Cleeve Hill in 1819 – to the 2014 redevelopment . From Golden Miller, Arkle and Vincent O’Brien to Best Mate, Ruby Walsh and Sam Waley-Cohen, we meet some of the characters – equine and human – who have become Cheltenham heroes, and go behind the scenes to discover how the heart of jumping racing operates. The foreword is by Cheltenham legend, Nicky Henderson.