Mick Fitzgerald: A Jump-Jockey's Life (Mainstream Sport)

Mick Fitzgerald: A Jump-Jockey's Life (Mainstream Sport) Rating:
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Mick Fitzgerald is not just a brave and talented sportsman--he's an eloquent person as well. One of the top National Hunt jockeys in Britain, Fitzgerald can give as good an interview as he can ride a race.

His deep-thinking and articulate manner certainly comes across in this paperback that offers a real insight into the life of a leading jump jockey. Every challenge and controversy facing the men and women in the saddle, from dieting and sustaining injuries to incurring the wrath of trainers and fellow jockeys, is discussed here.

Fitzgerald has already achieved plenty in his career and his steady rise to the top of his profession continued earlier this year when he was crowned leading jockey at the Cheltenham Festival, the blue riband meeting in the National Hunt world.

His four winners at Prestbury Park included the Gold Cup on See More Business and the Queen Mother Champion Chase with Call Equiname. Indeed, this edition has been revised and updated to include the 1998-99 season which was a truly "annus mirabilis" for Fitzgerald who is stable jockey to the Lambourn-based Nicky Henderson, the Queen Mother's trainer.

The instantly likeable Irishman already had a Grand National triumph to his name, although he is probably better remembered by non-racing people for his comment to BBC presenter Des Lynam after winning the 1996 Aintree spectacular on Rough Quest: "After that, Des, even sex is an anti-climax," quipped Fitzgerald in the winner's enclosure and the whole nation laughed in unison. But to race experts and enthusiasts, Fitzgerald is an honest and proficient jockey who will give an owner, trainer or punter value for money on any horse he happens to be riding.

Yet even someone as experienced and efficient as Fitzgerald can get criticised or feel scared on a horse and here he is not ashamed to discuss such occasions. With his past well documented, he also talks about the future although he stresses he has no ambitions to be a trainer.

You can be sure, though, that whatever he does decide to do after he has hung up his jodhpurs, he will do it with style and sincerity. --Alex Edwards

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