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Epsom Downs, May 3rd, 1769: a chestnut with a white blaze scorches across the turf towards the finishing post. His four rivals are so far behind him that, in racing terms, they are "nowhere." Awestruck, his spectators know they are in the presence of greatness. Among the crowd are two men who, according to the tradition of the Sport of Kings, should not be associated with the horse who will become its greatest exponent. One, Eclipse's owner, is a meat salesman. The second, who wants to own Eclipse, is an adventurer who has made his money through roguery and gambling. He is also the companion of the madam of one of London's most notorious brothels. While this man will remain an outcast to the racing establishment, Eclipse will go on to become the undisputed, undefeated champion of his sport. He will found dynasties that will dominate the bloodstock market—not only in Britain, but in every other country where Thoroughbreds race. His influence will be such that ninety-five per cent of horses racing today are his male-line descendants. This is a vivid portrait of high and low life; of princes, paupers, and prostitutes; an era of passionate sport, ferocious gambling, and uninhibited sex. It's the story of a rank outsider who went on to become a national celebrity; and of the horse that became a national icon, and whose influence is transcendent 200 years later.
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Nicholas Clee is a journalist, cookery writer, and racing enthusiast.Review:
"A compelling and brilliantly researched reflection of the era which featured one of racing's most renowned equine heroes." -- SIR PETER O'SULLEVAN "Nicholas Clee has taken one of the greatest of all racing stories and brought it wonderfully back to life" -- BROUGH SCOTT "There have been several previous books about (Eclipse), but none that sets him so vividly in context as this study by Nicholas Clee." DAILY TELEGRAPH "Clee does a brilliant job of conjuring up the rollicking Georgian London inhabited by Dennis O'Kelly and his brothel-keeping mistress." SUNDAY TELEGRAPH "Clee knows how to tell a gripping story: he weaves the halves together into a well-written narrative of social change... fascinating." -- INDEPENDENT
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