In parks, on downlands and heaths, by motorways, overlooking firths: the racecourses of Britain and Ireland are as various as the people you meet there. Some – Newmarket, Epsom, the Curragh – are rich in history, and among the most celebrated sporting venues in the world; others – Fakenham, Bangor-on-Dee, Perth – offer more modest but no less enjoyable spectacles. Journeying round these courses, Nicholas Clee meets the people who bring them to life: from those in the spotlight, including a Grand National-winning jockey, Derby-winning owner and top TV commentator; to many others with key roles in the sport – bookmakers, form experts, racecourse managers and more.
From them, he learns about the bravery, dedication, skill and expertise that make racing one of our most popular spectator sports. Whether basking in sunshine or sheltering from a hurricane, sampling a variety of pies or recoiling from the world’s worst curry, losing his money with the bookies or at the Tote windows, Clee soaks up the atmosphere, delves into racing business, and marvels at the uniqueness of each course and its people. Written with a keen eye, gentle humour and a deep love for the sport, Courses for Horses take us behind the scenes at that grand outing: a day at the races.