Book review: Time to take Flight
Fond memories count for nothing in the cruel commerical world and the days of annual publications such as the Playfair Racing Annual or the The Sun Guide to the Jumps, so popular in their heyday 25 years ago, have proved sadly numbered.
Nico de Boinville celebrates after riding Altior to victory in last season's Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
No longer do punters need to know information such as where the water jump is at Huntingdon, how much it costs to get into the Silver Ring at Wetherby, or require the results of last season's big races when that kind of thing is so readily available online with the minimum of fuss.
But there thankfully remains a healthy marketplace for well-written editorial and insight from experts and the market place for this kind of book remains pleasingly competitive and – some good news for the reader – features a number of good books available for a under a tenner or only a little more.
The usual offerings from Mark Howard, John Morris and Timeform are all also due out shortly – if not already – but first away from the tape are The Final Flight: Jumps Guide 2016/2017, written by Grant Copson and Lee Lewis, and Jumpers To Follow 2016 by Paul Ferguson. Both come in at under the £10 mark and while they have their similarities in terms of content, both have plenty to offer individually or in combination.
On looks alone, there is no doubt which of the pair stands out, the latter book very much benefiting from the expertise of the Weatherbys printing department in respect of its formatting and style. It is surely no coincidence that at times it reads and feels at times like a glossy racecard and there are a couple of slightly jarring errors in the Final Flight book that might have been ironed out at the proofreading stage.
On the other hand, it is to the credit of the authors of The Final Flight that their end-product stands up well against their big-bucks rival in terms of content, value and readability. In particular, the very palpable desire to drive the reader towards a good value ante-post bet that might cover the book's purchase price and more besides is welcome.
While Timeform excel in analysis and Howard and Morris both have so much to offer in terms of input from leading trainers, both The Final Flight and Jumpers To Follow look instead to a number of jockeys for interviews aimed at identifying exciting prospects for the months ahead.
The contributions to The Final Flight of Derek O'Connor and Richard Johnson, while limited in size, make for particularly-interesting reading and are arguably worth the £10 investment alone.
Click here for more information on The Final Flight and how to order the book.
Jumpers To Follow interviews a different set of jockeys to similarly interesting effect, and also includes a section on horses to follow from particular stables. The book stresses that the views expressed in the book are those of the author rather than the trainers, but the fact that many trainers receive a credit for their involvement suggest that at least some gentle steering has taken place as to which horses Ferguson chose to select.
This is the tenth edition of Jumpers To Follow and although there have been changes to the book in that time, the author's infectious enthusiasm for his subject continues to shine through. As much focus is placed on finding well-handicapped horses as on future or existing champions and the end product is richer for it.
You can find more details about the book and how to order it by clicking here.