David Ashforth's dedication sets the tone of this collection of his writing for The Sporting Life and Racing Post over the past twenty years or so: "This book is dedicated to the wonderfully strange bunch of characters, human and equine, who make horse racing so much fun. Thank you for all your help, over many years. Bookmakers might like to thank me for all my help."
And we ought to thank the publishers for bringing him to a wider audience, because his brand of wry, forgiving humour effortlessly transcends the confines of his subject matter. On the anxieties of watching a horse he part-owns play up in the parade ring, he writes: "Petomi has been sweating. She's worried. What's she worried about? Bosnia? All she's got to do is run as fast as she can for a minute, then she can go home and have dinner. I think it's oats again." On the lifestyle of his fellow scribe Jeffrey Bernard, he observes of the raddled roué: "Having graduated to two bottles of whisky a day, Bernard entered an addiction clinic, where a fellow patient advised him that, if he ever resorted to surgical spirit, 'for God's sake drink Boots' and not Timothy White's. It's got a better-looking label and doesn't look as sordid on the sideboard'. Sods I Have Cut On The Turf, the memoirs of another journalist, Jack Leach, still wins my prize for best racing title, but when it comes to content, Ashforth is right up there with the best of breed.
Published in hardback by Racing Post, £18.99