Sports Books: Hillenbrand's 'Seabiscuit' captures Book of the Year

Laura Hillenbrand struck a blow for female sportswriters yesterday when she won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, worth £12,000 in all to the winner.

Laura Hillenbrand struck a blow for female sportswriters yesterday when she won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, worth £12,000 in all to the winner.

Sally Jenkins won last year with Lance Armstrong and It's Not About The Bike, but Hillenbrand is the first woman to win the award outright since it began 10 years ago. Now, she is working on the movie version, which is expected some time next year.

Seabiscuit (Fourth Estate) tells the story of a written-off race horse, trained by a nearly mute trainer and ridden by a one-eyed jockey, who in the late 1930s and early 1940s captured the imagination of the American sporting public with a string of victories.

Asked what compelled her to write the book, Hillenbrand said: "I believe this is the greatest underdog story in sports history, not only because the horse was an underdog, but because the owner, trainer and jockey were as well. This is the kind of story that journalists wait a lifetime for."

Hillenbrand, who lives in Washington DC, collected a prize of £10,000 cash, a £1,000 free bet and a specially commissioned bound copy of her book, at a ceremony at London's Sportspages bookshop.

The other short-listed titles, each of which won £1,000 cash and a £750 free bet plus a leather bound copy, were: A Voyage For Madmen by Peter Nichols, about the fateful 1968 Golden Globe yacht race; Full Time, Tony Cascarino's straight-talking autobiography told to a former William Hill winner, Paul Kimmage; Looking For a Fight, David Matthews' account of his foray into professional boxing; and Kevin Mitchell's examination of that sport's brutality, War, Baby: The Glamour of Violence.

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