Clement Freud died suddenly in April 2009 while writing his weekly column for the Racing Post – a sublimely fitting end for a man whose writing about horseracing had for decades given voice to his unique take on the world.
His devotion to the sport had been lifelong. He owned racehorses; he rode in races – notably a £1,000-a-side match against his friend Sir Hugh Fraser in 1972; he was a keen punter, often winning huge amounts but all too familiar with the pang of losing; and he visited racecourses all over the world, with a wry eye not only for the atmosphere of different tracks, but also for the means of getting to them. Invited to Killarney, ‘They asked whether I preferred flying from Stansted or Luton, which is a bit like, “Would you rather have leprosy or syphilis?’”
But his Racing Post columns ranged far beyond the world of racing to topics such as old age (‘My memory is beginning to go a bit, also my memory is beginning to go a bit’); food; and sex: ‘I once mentioned to the head man at Ascot that I much admired the white stretch limo in No. 3 car park that regularly bounced up and down when the engine was off... Was it, I asked, part of the service at the royal meeting, or had private enterprise stolen a march? Also, was I, as a boxholder for many years, eligible for a discount?’
This book, which includes many of the jokes which formed such a popular part of his columns, brings together the very best of Freud on racing – the very best of Clement Freud.