One of the most fun things about writing books about horses is getting to meet other authors who share the same passion for really great horse stories. So, it was with very great pleasure that I met Dorothy Ours, author of Man O’War.
She has just written a new book: the extraordinary and little known tale of the great horse Battleship. I took one look at the gorgeous cover and I knew a treat was in store for readers.
The youngest jockey, the smallest horse, and an unconventional heiress who disliked publicizing herself. Together, near Liverpool, England, they made a leap of faith on a spring day in 1938: overriding the jockey’s father, trusting the boy and the horse that the British nicknamed the “American pony” to handle a race course that newspapers called “Suicide Lane.” There, Battleship might become the first American racer to win England’s monumental, century-old Grand National steeplechase. His rider, Great Britain’s Bruce Hobbs, was only 17 years old.
Hobbs started life with an advantage: his father, Reginald, was a superb professional horseman. But Reg Hobbs also made extreme demands, putting Bruce in situations that horrified the boy’s mother and sometimes terrified the child. Bruce had to decide just how brave he could stand to be.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the enigmatic Marion duPont grew up at the estate now known as James Madison’s Montpelier—the refuge of America’s “Father of the Constitution.” Rejecting her chance to be a debutante, denied a corporate role because of her gender, Marion chose a pursuit where horses spoke for her. Taking on the world’s toughest race, she would leave her film star husband, Randolph Scott, a continent away and be pulled beyond her own control. With its reach from Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight to Cary Grant’s Hollywood, Battleship is an epic tale of testing your true worth.
Battleship is about daring to fulfill your true identity — which isn’t always what you appear to be, or what the world thinks you should be.
It’s the true story of a remarkable horse who rose to his greatest achievement when he was middle-aged … of children raised to be brave, rather than sheltered from risks that seem too big … and of people embracing real-life challenges that so many now only simulate through video games.
Ultimately, Battleship shows how the Grand National race is like life itself: we can’t control everything, no matter how well we prepare, or how wealthy and talented we may be. But sometimes, that shouldn’t stop us from making a leap of faith.
And while you’re at it. You might want to check out author Dorothy Ours’ Facebook Page