High Life, Low Life, Sporting Life: A History of Racing in 25 Horses
Mr Darley's Arabian traces an extraordinary bloodline of outstanding racehorses - 95% of all thoroughbreds in the world are descended from one horse, the so-called Darley Arabian, shipped from Aleppo to Yorkshire in 1704 by a second son who failed to make his fortune and died before he could follow his horse home.
Chris McGrath tells the story of the men and women who owned and traded and bred the horses descended from that first stallion. He also follows the men they hired to train them, and the jockeys who rode them, and sometimes rescued them from the knacker's yard, unwittingly preserving the genetic line of winners that currently resides with the champion Frankel.
With a canvas that spreads across England and Europe, from Argentina to America, with a cast that takes in aristocrats and nouveaux riches, playboys and industrialists, Smithfield meat salesmen and the rulers of Dubai, Mr Darley's Arabian expertly and wittily sweeps us through 300 years and twenty-five generations of champion thoroughbreds, in a unique history of a particular passion.
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.
"'An excellent history ... McGrath is one of the finest sportswriters of this generation ... Brilliant" David Walsh, Sunday Times
"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 ... a teeming, colourful survey [with] a great deal to inform and entertain." Nicholas Clee, Observer