In 1955, Reg Gill – milkman and part-time illegal bookie – took his 12-year-old son Roy to the Spring meeting at Epsom Downs Racecourse. It was an outing that started a life-long passion for racing and set Roy on a mission to visit every racecourse in the British Isles. The journey that began a half-century ago at Epsom ended at Tralee in the west of Ireland in 1992, taking in meetings under both codes, Flat and National Hunt. Roy Gill has visited every racecourse in the United Kingdom and Eire at least once and continues to attend meetings whenever he can. Many courses have been closed down, some have moved their location, but every racecourse he visited is vividly recalled in this very personal and highly readable account. He has returned to many courses, like Wolverhampton and Limerick, which have moved from their original locations. Many years in the making – not least because the developments and changes to statistics taking place daily in the racing world necessitated constant updating! – this book is a veritable encyclopaedia of racing. The author recounts the noteworthy occurrences and behind-the-scene stories of each venue – their highs and lows, heroes and villains, as well as personal anecdotes about the courses, the horses, the jockeys and trainers. From Epsom to Tralee is beautifully illustrated with contemporary and archive photographs (many of them previously unseen and unpublished), illustrations and fascinating items of racing memorabilia. Told with humour and passion, this entertaining and informative work is essential reading for all lovers of the Turf, and also shines a valuable spotlight on the sporting and social history of these sceptered isles.
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From Epsom to Tralee
From 1955 to the present, Roy Gill has visited every racecourse in the UK and Ireland at least once. Along with brief histories, the highs and lows of Flat and National Hunt racing are revealed by an acknowledged expert and Turf Accountant. This book is beautifully illustrated with photographs (many of them previously unseen and unpublished) and fascinating racing memorabilia.
“In telling the story of our racecourses, Roy Gill perfectly highlights the agony and the ecstasy of the world of racing.” Bob Champion MBE
Roy Gill was born in Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, in 1938. His father Reg was a milkman (horse-drawn cart of course) but in his spare time was also an illegal bookmaker – at their local racecourse, Epsom, licences were sometimes overlooked and Reg often worked on the Hill.
Racing was an integral part of family life, but it was not until he was 12 years old that the young Roy was allowed to accompany his father to the races. From that moment he was hooked.
After boarding school and a stint in the Royal Navy, Roy embarked on a career in bookmaking, learning the ropes at the London School of Turf Accountancy. Every spare moment was spent visiting racecourses, at first in England and eventually round to the whole of the UK and Ireland.
The journey that began at Epsom in 1955 was completed at Tralee in 1992 when he had visited every racecourse under Flat and National Hunt rules, making a total of 107 meetings.