From National flop to racing cert as novelist
Bestselling writer, racing correspondent and champion jockey Dick Francis has died aged 89
HAD he remained in the racing world as a trainer or bloodstock consultant, after retiring from riding through injury in 1957, Dick Francis would have been remembered as one of the most successful National Hunt jockeys of his era -- and as the man who spectacularly managed to lose out in the 1956 British Grand National when he apparently had the entire field at his mercy.
As it is, the photograph of him within a whisker of the finishing line, aboard the Queen Mother's horse Devon Loch, flat on its belly with four legs helplessly splayed out, has provided one of the enduring enigmas of racing and one of its strangest images.
But this disaster, involving as it did the favourite horse of the "nation's favourite grandmother" and the popular press's handwringing and loud loyal sympathy that accompanied it, was to do no disservice to Francis in his subsequent life, bringing his name, as it did, to a public outside that of racing aficionados.