St. Martin's Griffin
The moving story of a tough little horse, a gifted boy, and a woman ahead of her time.
The youngest jockey, the smallest horse, and an unconventional heiress who disliked publicizing herself. Together, near Liverpool, England, they made a leap of faith on a spring day in 1938: overriding the jockey’s father, trusting the boy and the horse that the British nicknamed "the American pony" to handle a race course that newspapers called Suicide Lane. There, Battleship might become the first American racer to win England’s monumental, century-old Grand National steeplechase. His rider, Great Britain’s Bruce Hobbs, was only seventeen years old.
Hobbs started life with an advantage: his father, Reginald, was a superb professional horseman. But Reg Hobbs also made extreme demands, putting Bruce in situations that horrified the boy’s mother and sometimes terrified the child. Bruce had to decide just how brave he could stand to be.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the enigmatic Marion duPont grew up at the estate now known as James Madison’s Montpelier—the refuge of America’s "Father of the Constitution." Rejecting her chance to be a debutante, denied a corporate role because of her gender, Marion chose a pursuit where horses spoke for her. Taking on the world’s toughest race, she would leave her film-star husband, Randolph Scott, a continent away and be pulled beyond her own control.
"Following her superb biography of America’s greatest racehorse Man o’War, Dorothy Ours tells the story of Man o’War’s son, Battleship, and his quest to win the Grand National steeplechase. Like the heroine Velvet Brown of Enid Bagnold’s novel National Velvet, Battleship’s owner, Marion duPont Scott, persisted in her belief that her little American horse belonged in England’s greatest and most challenging race over jumps. Ours’ cadenced language, both elegant and often exhilarating, recalls the thundering hooves and pounding heart of her champion."
—Elizabeth M. Tobey, Ph.D.
"Anybody with an appreciation of racing’s history is certain to be enthralled by the richness given to this uniquely American tale of a Man o’ War son traveling to England for the world’s greatest steeplechase race at Aintree. Dorothy Ours excels as she breathes excitement into a grand bygone era with great style."
—Barry Irwin, CEO of Team Valor International, owner and breeder of Kentucky Derby-winner Animal Kingdom
“Meticulously-researched and accurately-written…an easy joy to read. I gained a lot of fascinating new background material on the leading characters, while the vivid description of the race itself was both stirringly exciting and emotionally moving. This is a totally addictive book that I just could not put down.”
—Jane Clarke, Grand National historian/researcher for Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool and curator of the Grand National Museum