My Life in 12 Horses by Nicky Henderson assessment

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My Life in 12 Horses by Nicky Henderson Rating 10/10 Worth as reviewed: £17.59 for hardcover

Title: My Life in 12 Horses

Writer: Nicky Henderson with Kate Johnson

Revealed: 25 September 2023

Out there as hardcover

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About My Life in 12 Horses

Nationwide Hunt champion coach Nicky Henderson OBE shares behind-the-scenes tales of the dozen most extraordinary thoroughbreds which have outlined his glittering profession.

After his early days as an newbie jockey and assistant to Fred Winter, Nicky began his personal coaching yard, which might turn into the house of such nice riders as Sir AP McCoy, Barry Geraghty, John Francome, Mick Fitzgerald, Sam Waley-Cohen, Richard Dunwoody, Nico de Boinville and plenty of others.

From his triple Champion Hurdle-winner See You Then, Remittance Man and Nobby the sheep, record-setting Altior, Sprinter Sacre and the best comeback in leap racing historical past, to his new star Structure Hill, the Henderson yard has been a breeding floor for achievement.

Via unique interviews with Nicky and his jockeys, Nicky Henderson: My Life in 12 Horses faculties us on life, sport, magic, braveness, loss, hope and love.


A pleasant and revealing biography, which is informed through 12 particular horses (the title of every chapter) in Nicky Henderson’s life. Beginning with Glad Warrior, “his beloved beserker”, who gave him a number of memorable wins as an newbie jockey, the guide tracks via stars corresponding to See You Then, Lengthy Run, Sprinter Sacre and Altior. Writer Kate Johnson has compiled the guide along with Nicky, and it’s each superbly and evocatively written.

With Nicky nonetheless very a lot coaching on the peak of his powers, the all-conquering Structure Hill solely squeaks in as an “afterword” – although filled with each character and pleasure – but this can be a full, personable and bewitching account of the genius that’s the six-time champion jumps coach.

This guide just isn’t solely revealing for what it tells us about Nicky, his astounding pure horsemanship expertise and empathy for the horses in his care, however I cherished the enter from different greats of the sport. Luminaries corresponding to John Francome and Steve Smith-Eccles make clear numerous facets of Nicky’s profession, which provides such perception.

We study his inspirations, his associates, and people, like Corky Brown, who’ve helped make Nicky into the success story he’s. There are additionally quotes from Nicky’s household, corresponding to his sister sharing the emotion of their mom’s sudden loss of life, so painful even 50 years later. All in all, it gives a radical and interesting account of this sensible man, and fantastic anecdotes about his nice horses, their personalities dropped at mild so superbly.

Regardless of Nicky’s incomparable achievements that so few trainers will ever match, his biography has a heartwarming (at instances heartbreaking), down-to-earth really feel. We stay the highs and lows with him, really feel his thrills and his ache. Most of all, in an period when antis attempt to level the finger at racing, it brings residence simply how a lot these horses are cherished, cared for, cherished – Nicky’s each waking thought for thus many many years has revolved round their wellbeing.

Whereas this can be a must-read for racing followers, I’d advocate it to anybody who has ever cherished an animal. As Richard Phillips says of Nicky’s profession: “Earlier than the rest, it’s an emotional relationship between Nicky and his horses… That’s most likely why Nicky’s so good at what he does, he will get fairly connected to them. All the very best trainers are emotional individuals, carrying their hearts on their sleeves. Being emotional means understanding how horses assume.”


A totally fulfilling and enlightening examine one of many biggest trainers of all time. It offers sensible perception to the rollercoaster thrills of Nicky Henderson’s excellent (and nonetheless strongly ongoing) profession and the personalities behind a few of the largest equine names in Nationwide Hunt historical past, from the “hell-cat” See You Then to the “glittering athlete” Sprinter Sacre. Typically I laughed and generally I cried, and it made me really feel I cherished the best recreation greater than ever.

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