IN 2002 The Sweeney Guide to the Irish Turf was published. Running to 650 pages, this invaluable book recorded the major events in Irish racing for the previous 500 years.
Written by Tony and Annie Sweeney, and Francis Hyland, the Guide is a document treasured by anyone fortunate enough to own a copy.
The Sweeneys have sadly passed away but Francis has continued the vitally important work of recording Irish racing history.
Together with Guy Williams, Francis has produced a very special body of work entitled Who Was Who in Irish Racing.
This hardback book stretches to almost 500 pages and contains short biographies on approximately 2,000 people who played a role in Irish racing and have now passed on.
The book mainly deals with owners, trainers and jockeys but it includes a wide cast of characters.
Robert Sangster gets a page and a half to himself but the authors arguably took greater pleasure in unearthing the stories of minor players, the unsung heroes, the lesser lights of the turf who all had their moment in the sun. So many of their stories would have been lost for all time but for this book.
There is a short foreword by Brian Kavanagh and an acknowledgement that Horse Racing Ireland made a contribution to the costs. It was money very well spent.
This is an easy book to read, whether you are a racing aficionado or a casual observer. Just open it on any page and find yourself whisked back in time.
Just 300 copies of the book have been printed. You must get one.
Who Was Who In Irish Racing, by Guy St John Williams and Francis P. Hyland, is published by Daletta Press. Priced at €100, copies can be purchased from Farrell & Nephew, 8 Main Street, Newbridge, Co Kildare. There is €7 post and packaging fee for telephone or internet orders.