Synopses & Reviews
His four rivals are so far behind him that, in racing terms, they are "nowhere." Watching Eclipse is the man who wants to buy him. An adventurer and rogue who has made his money through gambling, Dennis O'Kelly is also companion to the madam of a notorious London brothel. While O'Kelly is destined to remain an outcast to the racing establishment, his horse will go on to become the undisputed, undefeated champion of his sport. Eclipse's male-line descendants include Secretariat, Barbaro, and all but three of the Kentucky Derby winners of the past fifty years.
"In this colorful history, British journalist Clee (Don't Sweat the Aubergine) argues that Eclipse 'is the most influential stallion in the history of the Thoroughbred,' pointing out that 'all but three of the Kentucky Derby winners of the past fifty years' are his descendants. He covers the horse's undefeated racing career, from 1769 to 1771, and his days as a stud, which extended nearly to his death in 1789. Since no horse ever came close to defeating Eclipse, Clee focuses on the people whose lives were intertwined with Eclipse's, like Prince William, duke of Cumberland, Eclipse's original owner, whose death sent the horse to auction, where it was bought under unusual circumstances by a butcher named William Wildman. But the real star is gambler and roughneck Dennis O'Kelly, who along with his companion, Charlotte Hayes, the madam of England's foremost brothel, owned Eclipse for most of the horse's life. By combining stories of royals and commoners; sex and breeding lines; art and debauchery; fortunes lost and purses won, Clee creates a portrait of 18th-century England that is, at times, Dickensian. Solidly written, this work will give horse racing fans a glimpse of one of history's great horses as well as the colorful heritage of their favorite present-day steeds." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"The story of [Eclipse] is a compelling one; It's entertaining to read about, too. Clee's research yielded no shortage of juicy tidbits about prostitutes, gamblers, and minor and major royalty, tidbits that Clee conveys in an accessible biographical narrative that, while clearly scholarly, never feels academic . . . The book is as much a social history as it is a sporting one: Clee vividly describes life in 18th century London." --Forbes.com
A chestnut with a white blaze is scorching across the turf towards the finishing post.
About the Author
Nicholas Clee is a journalist and racing enthusiast. He is also the author of a cookbook, Don't Sweat the Aubergine. He writes a weekly column in the Times and reviews in the Times Literary Supplement.