The Boss: The Life and Times of Horseracing Legend Gordon W. Richards

01D77090FRL

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For a hesitant moment the massed gallery in the stands held their breath. Twice before, the unforgiving hill had snuffed out the fire in the flaming grey’s nostrils within the space of five strides. The memory evaporated in an instant.

One Man’s Queen Mother Champion Chase victory at the 1998 Cheltenham Festival was a triumph of faith for his trainer Gordon Richards. Press Room detractors had declared the flying grey a quitter–the imperious galloper and effortless jumper had twice tamely surrendered when put to the Gold Cup test. It followed that the decision to drop him back to two miles was the desperate act of a handler who was letting sentimentality cloud his judgement.

But Richards could not denounce his “little bouncing ball”–the horse to which he had wed his spirit during a long struggle with cancer–and his loyalty was rewarded by one of the most emotional victories in the Festival’s history. Within six months both One Man and Gordon Richards were dead.

Journalist John Budden knew The Boss for over 30 years, working closely with him during his final months to chronicle a life of extraordinary sporting achievement. Belligerent, emotional, outspoken, Richards rose from the ashes of a riding career terminated by a broken back, to be the Northern star of National Hunt racing, twice taking the Aintree Grand National back to Northumberland. Budden’s affectionate biography celebrates a man who himself celebrated the spirit and courage of his horses.
Alex Hankin