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Free Book – My Racing Adventures


A lifetime ago...

Or, to be more precise, before I started Focus Ratings, I ran a small blog which detailed the process of my learning about Horse Racing.

I had to close that blog down because of the work involved in running Focus Ratings.

Now, on that blog I used to give away free, public domain horse racing ebooks (to understand Public Domain, take a look at the Books Page) and yesterday, whilst I was waiting for a bit of the Speed Ratings code to run (I'm getting there, by the way) I thought I'd do a bit of housekeeping on my server and found the folder containing all these old ebooks and I took a look at one of them and remembered how good it was.

Anyway, I thought I'd share that book with you today and will try to get round to sharing the others as and when I have the time.

My Racing Adventures

An easy read, this book tells the tale of a man, born to a family of horse people, who himself spends his life in the saddle.

My Racing Adventures is a nice slow read, ideal for a winter's evening but, just because it's over 100 years old doesn't mean it doesn't have anything to say.

Take a look at pages 247 onwards and see the compassion that the author shows for young jockeys!

Or, around page 170, the worries of the jockeys when the weather turns bad (and the petition that they all signed!)

It is totally free to download.

My Racing Adventures by Arthur Nightingall was first published by T. Werner Laurie (of London) in 1901 and thus, it is now in the public domain.

This book has plenty of cracking tales and, no matter what area of horse racing interests you the most, you're sure to find something of interest here.

The download link for the PDF file is here... My_Racing_Adventures.pdf

You can read part of the first chapter here to show you what to expect...

My Racing Adventures
To begin at the beginning - and there is nothing like jumping off the mark with a nice lead - I was born at the famous South Hatch training stables, Epsom, in 1868. Riding, as alleged, runs in families, and it certainly seems to have been running very freely in mine for a long time past. We have cultivated a fine natural taste for jockey ship; we have taken to it as ducks take to water, though for a different reason.

I cannot go back exactly to the remote period when Nightingalls were not riding - they have clung to the saddle in more senses than one, just as though their fortune were bound up in it - but my earliest record of their prowess in that direction is a curious old whip, now in my possession. It bears the following inscription : "Thomas Nightingall, 1738." It is evidently a presentation whip to a jockey for winning a race, and naturally we prize it in the family. Such treasures give a lustre that money cannot buy.

One of our greatest enthusiasts in respect to riding was my grandfather, John Nightingall, who used to steer racehorses regularly at exercise on Epsom Downs after he was eighty years of age. He always wore a top-hat for that purpose, persistently eschewing any other form of headgear; he declined emphatically to ride anything but a racehorse up to the very last; and the fact is not a little remarkable, especially having regard to his advanced age, that there were some queer tempered horses in our stable that he rode better than any one else. If we had a trial in which he was not allowed to take part, his indignation was expressed in vigorous or riotous terms. "What!" he would exclaim, "too old, am I? Well, if some of you youngsters had half my pluck, you would win more races than are now placed to the credit of your account."

Another of his aphorisms was to the effect that so long as a man keeps on riding he will never grow old. He will pass quietly away before he has time to realise that anything special or important has happened.

"Stick to the saddle, my lad," advised my grandfather, "and age will not trouble you till it is almost too late to make a fatal impression."

He was notable for his fine "hands" on a horse; whilst, curiously, he adopted almost the same seat as that now associated with the American jockeys. He was an excellent judge of pace. One morning, on "Six Mile Hill," Epsom Downs, he rode in a trial - he was a very old man then - with his son (my father) and Robert I 'Anson, the celebrated jockey, who called to him to lay up with them, as he seemed to be out of his ground. "I'll lay up with you directly," he shouted back, " and also lay you out. Wait till I get my steam up." He won in a canter by several lengths when his steam was up, and his subsequent comments as to the riding of his antagonists were exceedingly caustic. He was never at a loss for words when he had anything
to say.

I may also mention here that the jockey traditions of our family must have been carried on in unbroken sequence since Thomas Nightingall scored, as already recorded, in 1738, though I possess no information with reference to what my forefathers did in the pigskin prior to the date mentioned. Probably they were doing a little incidental "flapping" on their own account, so as to keep their hand in for more important engagements. Indeed, I have a recollection of my father speaking about a brilliant riding adventure of his at Barnet Fail, where he won a couple of races worth thirteen sovereigns each, run in heats of about 2 miles, and as he walked his horse to the meeting - a journey of 15 miles - and back again at night, the work which he accomplished to win twenty - six pounds was sufficiently meritorious. "Little fish are sweet," he remarked pertinently, "when the big ones won't bite; and when they do bite, it is just as well to be prepared for hauling them in." He, too, was never short of verbiage, as may be said, when his ideas were worth communication. If one's first barrel misses, the second may surprise us by the extent of its slaughter.

The download link for the PDF file is here... My_Racing_Adventures.pdf

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The income that we make from sign ups from that site keeps me in Red Wine and Smelly Cheese!

As always...

My kindest regards

keith-eckstein  the horse racing scholar

One Response to “Free Book – My Racing Adventures”

  1. reggie says:

    funny about the book
    i you,went to epsom to get a job, the first stable I looked in was Walter Nightingales yard, at the time he had 2 yards and about a hundred horses
    i decided the trainer must have a lot of apprentices and it would be hard to get a ride in a race
    i went to ted smythes stable and I was in luck the trainer was in the yard,he gave me a job
    but I always looked up Walters yard, I do believe Walter had the first girl to work in racing stables,and she was beutifull

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