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Grundy: The Making of a Derby Winner, by Tim Fitzgeorge-Parker

March 21, 2011

I just knew by looking at its cover that Grundy: The Making of a Derby Winner, by Tim Fitzgeorge-Parker, was from the 1970s (1976 to be exact, first edition). Now protected by a clear mylar cover, the colors of the dust jacket’s cover photo just seem of that era, and sure enough, Grundy was a legendary, prize-winning racehorse from the 1970s.

Writer of several books on horse training, Fitzgeorge-Parker devoted his life to the sport of horse racing. He was a rider, owner, trainer, and journalist. He studied the art of training as the last assistant to one of the greatest trainers of all time, Atty Persse, who remained a top trainer for fifty years. Fitzgeorge-Parker wrote Grundy right after the racehorse’s retirement.

This book tells the story of a champion, following Irish-bred Thoroughbred Champion racehorse Grundy’s career from tiny, golden chestnut colt to his racing triumphs. Supporting characters are discussed: the breeders, trainer, owner, jockey, and more. Grundy won the Derby, the Irish 2,000 Guineas, the Irish Sweeps Derby, and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes. He also broke the all-time record for Ascot’s historic 1-1/2 mile track and finally ran to retirement to Britain’s National Stud, a Thoroughbred horse breeding farm.

In September 2002, the Guardian newspaper ranked the “The 10 greatest horse races of all time,” and the race between Grundy and Bustino in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, Ascot, July 26, 1975, was #2. As racing writer Sean Magee describes, 

“A true clash of the generations between Grundy, Derby and Irish Derby winner and the top three-year-old in Europe, and Bustino, the top four-year-old, with a top-class supporting cast. Run at a blistering speed from the off, the race shook down to a head-to-head all the way up the straight, with Grundy sneaking the advantage, but Bustino refusing to be shaken off. Bustino faltered inside the final furlong, rallied, then finally had to give best by half a length. Brough Scott called it ‘the hardest, most implacable, most moving Flat race I have ever seen’ – a judgment widely shared about a contest soon dubbed ‘The Race of the Century’.”

This story and more is told in this historically important and fascinating book.

If you’d like to see the amazing, though career-ending, race between Grundy and Bustino, here it is. I wonder if the race between Zenyatta and Blame will be seen the same way.

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  1. Who is Atty Persse? « Post Positions

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