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Latest annual surges beyond even last year's superb offering.

Racing Post Annual 2014 Edited by Nick Pulford Published by Racing Post [euro]14.99 Order now: 01933 304858 THOSE who considered Frankel an impossible act to follow may well revise their opinion after reading this comprehensive record of another tumultuous racing year. If the sport craves superstars, Sprinter Sacre is well on the way and the Racing Post Annual very sensibly leads off with him. "He's the best I've seen and I don't think I'd be in a hurry to take him on again," as Cue Card's trainer Colin Tizzard soberly reflected.

From there the reader is taken on a journey involving the big names, the big races, the sadness we knew was bound to come but hoped Sir Henry would be able to delay for just a little longer, the whiff of corruption, the few bad apples in the barrel. The book is compiled by people whose love of racing is almost tangible, which makes its 'warts and all' approach highly commendable.

Selecting highlights is not easy, but Jonathan Mullin's account of Willie Mullins's assault on the Nakayama Grand Jump with Blackstairmountain is fascinating, while this reviewer's frail grasp on Arab racing is rather firmer following Stuart Riley's informative piece on the sport in Britain generally and its big day at Newbury in particular.

In a beautifully balanced study on Frankie Dettori, Peter Thomas touches on the heartbreak of the man who has let himself down and whose gift for showmanship at the expense of the inner Mr Grumpy suddenly counts for little. It is unfair, of course. Thomas chooses exactly the right quote, from John Gosden: "The issue with Frankie was always trying to keep him between the high and low water marks ... but he's a super chap and pound for pound the best rider I've ever put up on a horse."

Treve's success in the Prix Vermeille came on the anniversary of the fateful positive test that brought Dettori's world crashing down. The broken ankle that prevented him from riding her in the Arc cost him a 200th Group 1 winner. Fresh out of easy platitudes, he admitted his despair. "I was taking painkillers, not because of my leg but because I had a broken heart."

The new arrangement with Sheikh Joaan Al Thani needs to work well, and quickly. When you read this shrewd yet sympathetic piece, one of Thomas's very best, you will undoubtedly wish him well.

When the list of photographers is headed by Edward Whitaker and Patrick McCann, it goes without saying that some of the work will be stunning. Best of all, perhaps, is McCann's extraordinary study of a horse being washed down at Thurles, in near-darkness it seems, all spray and acquiescence, man and beast as one in their own private world.
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Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Nov 27, 2013
Words:462
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