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Undisputed master of trivia lands a double; The pick of the recent releases reviewed by our resident team of critics 500 Strangest Racing Stories and 1,000 Racing Quotations compiled by Graham Sharpe (pounds 12.99 each or pounds 20 the pair, published by Highdown - bookshop).

Byline: Daniel Hill

GRAHAM SHARPE, William Hill's media relations director, has done well in the last 20 years when it comes to churning out books, his subjects ranging from a biography of Screaming Lord Sutch to a fixed football match between Liverpool and Manchester United in 1915.

However, the majority of Sharpe's back catalogue focuses on racing, with the weird and wonderful often the main subject matter. His latest two offerings, 500 Strangest Racing Stories and 1,000 Racing Quotations, see Sharpe on common ground, and his love of trivia shines through in these two volumes.

Did you know, for example, that Gay Kelleway once listed her favourite food as chocolate body sauce? Or that Boxing Match earned the form book comment for his run at Fontwell in May 1995: "Weakening when hit streaker, pulled up."

An astonishing 250,000 people attended a centenary meeting at Blaydon Races in 1962, while a mixture of Guinness and salt was prescribed by the racecourse doctor to an injured Terry Biddlecombe, who had just won the 1970 Welsh National on the Fred Rimell-trained French Excuse. I could go on . . .

There are some gems in 1,000 Racing Quotations, not least the late William Hill's colourful retort to an advert he didn't much care for, and what John Francome allegedly planned to do on his 52nd birthday. There are also more serious quotes, such as a candid Martin Pipe, in an interview with The Guardian, stating: "I've had a wonderful life in racing - but it's definitely put me off people. There was so much jealousy it became really hurtful."

I guess you could read both volumes from start to finish, but the fun comes from randomly dipping in and finding something amusing and interesting to while away the time for five minutes or so. You may have your own ideas about where you may like to keep either book, but I know where mine will reside - and a jolly good purpose they will serve too.
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Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Mar 30, 2008
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