Lucky Break, by Paul Nicholls

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The Independent Culture

If the prospect of Kauto Star and Denman renewing battle in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in a few weeks' time does not excite you, this is probably not the book for you. If it does, the memoirs of their trainer, Paul Nicholls, are well worth the price of admission.

The lucky break in question did not seem so lucky at the time, as a broken leg ended Nicholls's riding career at 29, but by his own admission he was not the best in the saddle – "I was exactly the type of jockey I would not employ now" – and it gave him the impetus to begin training, at which currently he is indisputably the best, with four championships in a row.

There are no great revelations as to how he has achieved this, but surviving on a few hours' sleep a night, choosing good staff and keeping his owners happy and informed seem a large part of the winning formula. Nicholls is not above settling a score or two – his predecessor as champion trainer, Martin Pipe, is obviously not on his Christmas card list – but his love of his work shines through.

Lucky for him, and lucky for the jumps game.

Published in hardback by Orion, £20