Reviewed by Janet Emson
Duncan Claymore could have it all. He’s one of the country’s up-and-coming young jockeys and this year his sights are set on getting right to the top. He has the talent and the tenacity, but he also has his demons, and it’s these that threaten to overthrow his burning ambition.
Duncan was taught everything he knows by his father, Charlie, a former trainer whose career and reputation were destroyed when a series of bitter rivalries got out of hand. It ruined him and Charlie hasn’t been able to set foot on a racecourse since.
Now, with his father’s health rapidly declining, Duncan is desperate to beat the best and at the same time take down the men responsible for Charlie’s ruin. But can he do both or must he choose between his family and his future?
This is the first novel by champion jockey A.P. McCoy and he has naturally fallen back on his 18 year career in horse racing to set his first novel in the horse racing world.
The story is set in 1979 and focussed on Duncan Claymore a young, cocky jockey. He has two dreams, to become Champion Jockey, and to get revenge on the three men who ruined his father.
His dad, Charlie, was a horse trainer, who was small time, but after a series of wins, becomes more successful. But his success upsets some powerful men who set out, and succeed in ruining him. Now Charlie is suffering from dementia and Duncan wants to get revenge on the men who put an end to his dad’s racing career and for Charlie to know they have been brought to their knees. As Duncan becomes more successful on the track he comes closer and closer to his enemies but when it comes to his plans for revenge will he fall at the first hurdle?
This story is a fascinating insight into the racing world and I enjoyed this aspect of the book. It was good to follow Duncan become more successful as a jockey, finding a second family with his racing friends. I grew to like Duncan the more I read about him, he didn’t seem a very sympathetic character at first but his love for his father, horses and his friends soon shone through and I found myself wanting him to get his revenge – but not if it should cost him all the progress he had made in his own racing career.
I don’t want to go into details here as to what Duncan’s plan is to get revenge on his father’s enemies, or who those enemies are, as that would spoil the story.
I admit I didn’t class this as a traditional thriller, I didn’t feel that the pace was such as I would expect in such a novel but I did become more intrigued as to how Duncan would get his revenge as the storyline developed. This book would appeal to anyone who has an interest in horse racing but don’t let it put you off if you don’t. I had little knowledge about this before reading this novel but enjoyed reading this fictionalised account of the racing world.
I’d like to thank Orion Publishing for providing me with a review copy and Sharon for allowing me to guest review on her blog.