FOR SOME REASON horse racing has a less distinguished literature than other great sports, for instance cricket or even Association Football. Writers have mainly been attracted to the seedier side of the game, but few - Damon Runyon is the notable exception - have really risen to the occasion. There is nothing in racing literature to match the incomparable R S Surtees, or for that matter Trollope, on the hunting field.
Recent years have seen the beginnings of a renaissance. One sign of this was Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit, which became an international bestseller and was made into a film. In truth the writing was no more than workmanlike, though the story was incomparably vivid.
Now comes Jane Smiley's A Year at the