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John Oaksey: Mince Pie for Starters

Release date: 02nd September, 2002
Publisher: Headline

List Price: £18.99
Our Price: £13.29
You Save: £5.7 (30%)
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If, like me, you believe Lord John Oaksey to have the warm exterior of a man born to be a raconteur, then after reading this book, you will be pleased to discover you were right in your original assumption.

Some of Lord Oaksey's often hilarious tales provide both a fascinating self portrait and a definitive account of racing since the war.

John Oaksey's father, Geoffrey Lawrence, the first Baron Oaksey, was a Lord Justice who sat as a judge at the Nuremburg trials; not surprisingly, he anticipated a career in the legal profession for his son. This was particularly so after John had attended Eton and Oxford and won a Henry Fellowship to Yale Law School. But John had other plans and, having been bitten by the horse riding bug since winning first prize on Mince Pie at the Cricklade County Show at the tender age of six, he decided to jettison a legal career in favour of a life at the Turf.

It's the type of decision which can split families, but thankfully Baron Oaksey considered his son's wishes and intuitively understood where John would be happiest. The legal profession lost John Oaksey when his father informed him, "If you can find someone prepared to pay you to do something you really enjoy, don't, for heaven's sake, let them out of your sight." Clearly, the author didn't and writes, "Those were his words - some of the wisest and kindest I was ever lucky enough to hear."

John Oaksey began his racing career in 1955 and went on to ride over 200 winners in the ensuing twenty years, including the Whitbread Gold Cup. In total, he had 11 rides in The Grand National, the first of which was at the age of 32 when he started the 1961 race as Taxidermist's jockey. Older followers of the National will remember Oaksey finishing second in 1963 on Carrigbeg. Some punters never forgot: one slightly inebriated chap who recognised Oaksey in London years later said, "I know you! You're the booger who got tired before yer 'orse."

The great attraction of this book is that you do not have to be mad keen on horse racing to enjoy it. Such is John Oaksey's writing style that he is able to recount a lifetime as a jockey, television commentator and a newspaper correspondent in a manner which makes the reader want to invite the noble Lord to join him for dinner. This would allow time to enjoy more of Oaksey's fascinating tales which are an integral part of a fascinating life.


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