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Author’s tale of the nag that won the National

David Owen with his book on Foinavon PNL-140422-092331001

David Owen with his book on Foinavon PNL-140422-092331001

Watching the 1967 Grand National changed David Owen’s life forever.

As a seven-year-old David’s ears pricked up when commentator Michael O’Hehir started excitedly relaying the astounding events that were unfolding.

For all of the front running horses had fallen, and 100 to one outsider Foinavon was running ahead, sure to win the prestigious race.

David, who now lives in Steeple Claydon, grew up, and in 2001 became sports editor of the Financial Times.

But his fascination with the nag that won the National was reignited when he learned that the jockey who rode Foinavon lived close to his then home.

David, who now works as a freelance journalist, said: “I went to interview him and also found out that John Kempton, Foinavon’s trainer was still alive.

“He took quite a lot of finding because he left racing and nobody knew where to find him, eventually I did, he was living in Devon and nobody had really asked him his side of the story.

“When I left the Financial Times I had a bit more time so I put a proposal together for a book and found a publisher.”

Two years, and 200 interviews later David’s book was finished - the definitive account of Foinavon’s unlikely victory.

And the book, entitled Foinavon: The Story of the Grand National’s Biggest 
Upset, recently won the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award in America, given to the best horse racing writers in the business.

The book is out now and is published by Bloomsbury.

 

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