Classic Winners 1980 – 2015 is not only a pictorial review of the five classic horse races for three-year-olds in England, but also a critique of the many changes that have taken place in British horse-racing over the period. This quality hardback publication uses over 950 colour photographs of 168 classic winners and the men and women who bred, owned, trained and rode them. Including racing record, annual Timeform ratings, principal performances, stud career, three-generation pedigrees with posed conformation portraits of most of the classic winners of the last thirty-five years, this is a never-done-before book to add to your racing library.
The idea for Classic Winners germinated during a 2013 Derby Day breakfast conversation between the author, fellow racing photographer Ed Byrne and Tim Cox, a director of The National Horseracing Museum and the owner of an extraordinary collection of racing books and memorabilia.
Originally due to commence with the 2000 Guineas of 1990, it was realised this would exclude the celebrated classic winners Shergar, Oh So Sharp, Dancing Brave, Reference Point and Nashwan. So the decision was taken to start with the 1980 classics, although John Crofts was still then working full-time at Warren Place for Henry Cecil and had only a few of the 1980 and 1981 English classics in his photo library.
Had the problems encountered in finding colour images of Quick As Lightning been anticipated, there might have been second thoughts. All surviving racing photographers operating at that time were asked for photographs of the 1980 1000 Guineas, but without exception they were either working in black and white or had gone elsewhere. An ex-photographer now living in London walking other people’s dogs for £10 an hour was tracked down, but with equal lack of success.
Eventually in desperation Brian Rouse, who rode Quick As Lightning, was contacted. Brian had a framed photo of the race finish and it was arranged to borrow it. After some restoration work John was able to include the image in Classic Winners. Nearly all of the 1980-81 images by-lined to Ed Byrne had to be scanned from his excellent books ‘Ed Byrne’s Racing Year’ as Ed was unable to find the original transparencies (anyone who knows Ed will realise this is not an unusual state of affairs), so the quality of reproduction of these images is not always what might have been wished for.
We hope you enjoy Classic Winners, the stories and photographs of the horses and the men and women who bred, owned, trained and rode them.