Book Review: Chasers & Hurdlers
Is it worth stumping up the cash for Timeform's annual masterpiece Chasers & Hurdlers? We think so.
Chasers and Hurdlers: A fine piece of work
Chasers & Hurdlers Review
A lot of National Hunt racing books are being published at this time of year, most looking ahead to the forthcoming winter while trying to pinpoint the winners and stars of the jumping game.
They are great, but the undisputed king of the racing tomes in terms of both quality and quantity is Timeform's Chasers & Hurdlers, now in its 41st year, and still an indispensable resource for the serious racing fan.
The negative is the price, for at £75 this publication won't be for everyone, especially if you are already signed up to Timeform's online products that allow you access to their ratings and analysis.
But if you're reading this and you've got this far you're probably debating whether it's worth taking the plunge and stumping up the cash and, I urge you, it really is.
Admittedly, I'm a long-time fan. Of the 17 books still on the bookshelf in my living room, 12 are Chasers & Hurdlers volumes from down the years. The others are I Partridge, a B&Q DIY guide, a How-To-Home-Brew book, A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler and The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence.
All are great books, especially the last two, but I reference none of them like I do old Chasers & Hurdlers – the wonky kitchen cupboards can vouch for that – and I think that's what makes them so good.
You can dip in and out of them – you have to, surely nobody reads about 9,000 horses like they would a novel – and whether you want an interesting and entertaining account of the past season or a winner-finding tool then this hefty piece of work ticks both boxes.
The wealth of information is vast and the historical comparisons give us some required context, but the jewel in the crown of the king of the annual racing publications is undoubtedly the essays.
I'm yet to get through all of the major ones, still dipping, you see, but I started with Don Cossack, as, well, I love the big beautiful beast and so do Timeform. He's been Horse of the Year in this annual twice now and the Halifax scribes have long been beating the Don Cossack drum.
His Gold Cup season is covered in depth and the passage on Gordon Elliott's stable star ends by saying 'that he stood out in a vintage season like the latest one is a fine testament to him.'
The news that Gigginstown had removed all their horses from Willie Mullins', with Elliott being the main beneficiary, broke too late to be included here, but many of the main talking points and news stories from the world of racing are covered in depth.
In the essay on Superb Story, for example, the terrestrial TV coverage of racing is discussed, linking seamlessly to the decline of showjumping following that sport's disappearance from our TV screens. That brings in Nick Skelton, before the narrative turns to his sons, Dan and Harry, and their combined success at the Cheltenham Festival with handicap plot, Superb Story.
That's a perfect example of Timeform tackling a big issue while interlinking it with the story of a horse and there's plenty more of them.
Anibale Fly covers the scale of the JP McManus operation, Douvan sees Timeform defending their rating of Arkle, No More Heroes tackles the issue of equine fatalities, Sprinter Sacre sees them discuss remarkable comebacks and Vroum Vroum Mag touches on the Riccis and the strength in depth of their string.
There are more. Too many to mention here. But if you're getting excited about the forthcoming jumps season and you haven't purchased your Chasers & Hurdlers yet, then now is the time. It's a fine piece of work, as always. And more useful than a B&Q DIY guide, too.
'Chasers & Hurdlers' has something for everyone, whether you're the champion trainer or a keen amateur who follows the game as a hobby. Whatever your angle on racing, 'Chasers & Hurdlers' represents great value and is a book you really must have. Order now at Timeform.com or find it on Amazon.
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