Gambling across borders

A blog about the productive life of risk

Cambridge Companion to Horseracing

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CUP Horseracing

Rebecca Cassidy, the principle investigator of our ‘Gambling in Europe’ project has recently edited The Cambridge Companion to Horseracing. This ambitious book investigates the intersection of racing and literature, art, history, and finance, casting the sport as the product of cross-class, cosmopolitan, and international influences.

Chapters on racing history and the origins of the thoroughbred demonstrate how the gift of a fast horse could forge alliances between nations, and the extent to which international power dynamics can be traced back to racetracks and breeding sheds. Leading scholars and journalists draw on original research and firsthand experience to create vivid portraits of the racetracks of Newmarket, Kentucky, the Curragh, and Hunter Valley, exposing readers to new racing frontiers in China and Dubai as well. As a unique resource for fans and scholars alike, the Companion reopens essential questions regarding the legacy and importance of horseracing today.

Rebecca’s engaging introduction brings together perspectives and understandings about horseracing and how it relates to other social activities, such as crime, gambling but also sentiments between people themselves and between people and horses. She guides us on this journey not only through academic work, but also acknowledging the literary work of Ernest Hemingway, Anthony Trollope and George Moore as well as the recent HBO TV series Luck. You can preview the book’s introduction and a special chronology of horseracing on the CUP website. The Cambridge Horseracing Companion has already been widely reviewed: in Irish Field, Racing Post and on the blog of Cambridge University Press. Racing Ahead has also featured an evocative extract from the book – Derby Day: ‘Temporary Saturnalia of Social Equality’.

Luck is a complex, unflinching portrayal of violence and corruption at the track. Dialogue- and character-driven, it invites reflection and understanding rather than judgement. Milch, a lifelong race fan and winner of two Breeders Cups, describes his series as ‘a love letter’, albeit an unsentimental one: ‘To me, the track is what the river was to Mark Twain. Where you see the most life and interesting people, go there. That’s what I’ve done.’ In March 2012, halfway through filming the second episode of the second season, production of Luck was permanently suspended by HBO, when a third horse had to be euthanized as a result of an accident on the set… read more of the Introduction


Written by Andrea Pisac

June 28, 2013 at 10:56 am

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