By Graham Sharpe

Sharpe Angle Reads The New Racing Books

I've only recently had the opportunity to cacth up with a number of racing related titles which have been published within the last few months, but several of them are well worth bringing to the attention of as wide a potential audience as possible.

Laura Hillenbrands Sea Biscuit (4th Estate) tells the tale of a horse which started at the lowest levels of the sport in the mid thirties in the States and went on to become of the legends of the turf over there.  Trained by a virtually mute mustang breaker from Colorado and ridden by a failed boxer, blind in one eye and crippled. It is claimed that in 1938 the small,crooked-legged racehorse received more press coverage than Hitler, Mussolini or Roosevelt. Find out why in this fascinating book.

Eclipse Press publish a series of excellent Thoroughbred Legends volumes, which concentrate on the biggest stars of the US turf, but should be required reading over here. I've been looking at a couple of titles. Nashua was runner up in the 1955 Kentucky Derby but later beat his conqueror in that race, Swaps, and was named Horse of the Year, while his owner William Woodward jr was shot by his wife in a high society scandal. The book by Edward L Bowen tells both stories.

Spectacular Bid by Timothy T Capps looks at the horse who was only denied a Triple Crown when he stood on a safety pin before the Belmont Stakes. Others in this fine, well illustrated and detailed series include John Henry; Man OWar; and Sunday Silence.

From the same stable, John McEvoys Great Horse Racing Mysteries is of great vinterest here, particularly as it takes a thorough look at a number of cases unfamiliar on this side of the pond did jockey Ron Hansen jump off a bridge voluntarily or was he persuaded to do it? Did arsonists torch Hawthorne Racecourse after a failed betting scam? Why did the great Citations rider Al Snider disappear?

Closer to home he missed out on the chance of a record breaking fourth consecutive Champion Hurdle, but theLegend of Istabraq continues to grow. Michael Clowers book (Cassell, £15.99) is perhaps a little premature but nonetheless fascinating.

Simon Barnes is possibly the most consistently readable writer on horses currently working and On Horseback(Harper Collins, £17.99) collects together many of his best pieces.

If winners are what you want try Sun Guide To Flat 2001 (Invincible Press, £4.99), put together by the capable Damian Walker; perhaps a more dubious proposition is Racing Systems With The Pocket Calculator by John White (Foulsham, £6.99), but as this is an expanded, revised edition, there are obviously plenty out there who believe the produces the goods.

A little light reading perhaps to be absorbed whilst lounging around the pool on holiday ever genial former jock turned commentator Richard Pitmans Josephs Mansions (Harper Collins, £9.99) works in kidnap, organised crime, family rivalry and a missing Grand National favourite, Angel Gabriel how can it go wrong?

Poker is enjoying a high profile at the moment  Poker Bets ,Bluffs and Bad Beats from Bloomsbury at £20 is a history of the game by a man well steeped in it and a top writer,to boot Al Alvarez tackles a subject he can really relate to.

How To Play Poker And Win is by Brian McNally (Channel 4 Books, £7.99) one of the team behind the compulsive programme Late Night Poker which has helped broaden the games appeal.

Also from the Channel 4 stable, the C4 Guide To Form & Betting ropes in the ever reliable Sean Magee along with two Macs Jim McGrath and John McCririck, both of whom are masters ofn their craft.