Epsom Downs, May 3rd, 1769: a chestnut with a white blaze scorches across the turf towards the finishing post. His four rivals are so far behind him that, in racing terms, they are "nowhere." Awestruck, his spectators know they are in the presence of greatness. Among the crowd are two men who, according to the tradition of the Sport of Kings, should not be associated with the horse who will become its greatest exponent. One, Eclipse's owner, is a meat salesman. The second, who wants to own Eclipse, is an adventurer who has made his money through roguery and gambling. He is also the companion of the madam of one of London's most notorious brothels. While this man will remain an outcast to the racing establishment, Eclipse will go on to become the undisputed, undefeated champion of his sport. He will found dynasties that will dominate the bloodstock market--not only in Britain, but in every other country where Thoroughbreds race. His influence will be such that ninety-five per cent of horses racing today are his male-line descendants. This is a vivid portrait of high and low life; of princes, paupers, and prostitutes; an era of passionate sport, ferocious gambling, and uninhibited sex. It's the story of a rank outsider who went on to become a national celebrity; and of the horse that became a national icon, and whose influence is transcendent 200 years later.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - prichardson - LibraryThing
I really enjoyed this book. What makes this book is not the story of Eclipse himself, although it does underline his importance to racing down the ages, but the historical context and the characters that shaped racing in the 18th Century. Read full review