Reviews

Welcome to the world of internationally acclaimed author Muriel Lennox ..magnificent horses, brilliant storytelling, awesome books.

The Horse and the Tiger

Muriel Lennox knows horses.  For 12 years Lennox was the rider-in-residence (I didn’t know they had such things) at the famed Windfields Farm, owned by legendary Canadian financier and member of the original Canadian Establishment, E.P.Taylor.

In fact, Lennox was on a first name basis with Taylor, referring to him as Eddy, and accompanying him on rides across his lush estate.

She has written about two of Taylor’s famous thoroughbreds, the great Northern Dancer, the first Canadian-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby (1964), and Nearctic, his sire, a famous horse in his own right.  Her knowledge of thoroughbreds, her intimacy with their breeding and care, and her engaging writing style have earned her a solid readership in what might otherwise be a niche market.  Her third book continues that legacy.

In The Horse and the Tiger, Muriel Lennox examines the connection between thoroughbred racing, breeding, and the rise of the Celtic Tiger, the name for the renaissance of Ireland’s economy back in the early 1970s.

The Irish had traditionally been a people obsessed with horses and horse racing, and for a long time they felt lost and disconnected as the sport’s centre moved to England, then over to North America.  The Irish races were considered secondary to the big races; warmups or conditioners for the English Derby, the US Triple Crown races, and even the Canadian King / Queen’s Plate.  Breeders in Ireland were desperately looking for a way back into the club as it were.  They found it through one of their countrymen, Michael Vincent O’Brien, considered as one of the greatest horse trainers in the world.

The horse that O’Brien was asked to train at his farm in Ireland was a son of Northern Dancer, a Windfields Farm resident since being turned out to stud in 1965.  The horse was named Nijinsky after the famed Russian ballet dancer who said that he would come back in another life as a horse.  Nijinsky has a stellar racing career.  He was named Champion Two Year Old in both England and Ireland in 1969, won the Epsom Derby and the Irish Derby, and earned more money than any other horse up to that point.  It was the return of the Great Irish Thoroughbred.

What followed was a rapid growth in the business of horse breeding that saw yearlings sold for upwards of $3.5 million (Northern Dancer was considered expensive at $25,000!) By syndicated purchasers, and Saudi sheiks; and up to 10 times that for a proven winner for stud.  Storm Bird, for instance, went for $21 million compared to Northern Dancer’s $2.9 million in 1970.  And E.P.Taylor was offered $40 million for the great stallion himself in 1981.  Stud fees for the horse Sadler’s Wells earned Coolmore Stables in Ireland upwards of half a billion dollars!  The Irish syndicate under the control of Robert Sangster was at the centre of this business, and in control of its growth.  The first Celtic Tiger was roaring.  How long would it last?  Who would challenge its supremacy?  What could possibly bring it down?

Muriel Lennox chronicles the rise and fall of Irish horse breeding in the mid-twentieth century in exquisite detail.  If you weren’t really interested in horse racing before this – as was I – then open this book, and keep your computer handy.  There are videos of all the major horses mentioned in this book somewhere in the ethernet.  You can read Lennox’s wonderfully nuanced descriptions of a particular horse’s classic race – say Secretariat’s record setting 1973 Belmont Stakes win – then watch a video of it.  It will instantly turn you into a lover of horse racing.”                                                                     Bill MacLean, Metro News, Toronto, Canada

“Clear your schedule and make yourself comfortable, you are going on a fascinating ride with Muriel Lennox and the beloved champion, Nijinsky.  You will pass through the dark shadows of Ireland’s history to the luminous bubble in which only the very wealthy reside.  Here, you will meet the denizens who populate this rarified place and watch as they go toe-to-toe in their efforts to won, control, and direct the force of nature that was Nijinsky and his ilk.  Can human beings own, control and direct a force of nature?  Ride on.”                                                                                                                                                               Lynne Graley, Orillia, Canada

“Thank you for writing this great book.  It must have taken an awful lot of research.  I am widely touting it to my friends and relatives.”                                                               Rolph deGannes dvm, Schomberg, Canada

Northern Dancer – His Legend and His Legacy – World Wide Reviews

“Beautifully written! I couldn’t put it down!” Eileen Kay, Lyford Cay, Bahamas

“Have spent a very pleasant weekend reading your Northern Dancer masterpiece. Very many congratulations on a job very well done!”                                                                             Dick Francis, Grand Cayman, British West Indies

“Japan is no exception, needless-to-say, in that Northern Dancer has exerted a great impact on horse racing. Our sport has been changed by his descendants, including Northern Taste, the all-time champion in Japan, and Viceregal, very much familiar to Canadian fans as well.  This exciting book on the great Northern Dancer fully satisfies all the criteria in a work of non-fiction and is enhanced by the author’s enthusiasm, passion and witty sense of humour.

After reading this book I could not resist myself from shouting: “My mission is nothing but to introduce this to our readers!” Thanks to Ms. Lennox’s kindness the work will be published in the magazine in which I am responsible for editorial tasks. I have never felt so proud as an editor, than having this opportunity to introduce such a wonderful story to our readers.”                                                                                                                              Kunio Serizawa, Editor-in chief, Daily Gallop, Tokyo, Japan

“I am a teacher of math at a preparatory school where many students study to pass the entrance exam to university. My students are good at math, but bad at English. They love horse racing much better than anything else. So I will use Northern Dancer: The Legend and His Legacy as a text so that they can be interested in English.”                          Hiroyasu Yamamuro, Tokyo, Japan

“Absolutely brilliant!”                                                                                                                      Katsumi Yoshida, Shadai Farm, Japan

“Lennox’s enjoyable book…. written with care and in a style which is beautifully uncluttered.”                                                                                                                                             Len Gould, The Independent, England

“Fascinating read… superb insight into a remarkable horse.”                                                    Janet Hickman, Racing Post, England

“I was in Spain last week on holiday and read the book there. I really enjoyed it especially the early years which are not nearly as well chronicled as his later years at stud.  It is also a great deal more fun to have a copy personalized by the author and I feel the biggest problem I will face is keeping track of the book as people try to borrow it.” David Ashby, London, England

“The narrative is never sluggish and the excitement of the memorable moments…are vividly brought to life.”                                                                                                                Jamie Douglas,  Home & Country Life, England

“Readers will be deeply stirred by Ms. Muriel Anne Lennox’s portrayal of the legendary stallion. Perhaps it is her particular perspective threaded through the pages along with her friendship with E.P.Taylor, who brought Northern Dancer to a world that tried frequently to dismiss Northern Dancer, that makes this book all the more touching.  There is no doubt that this book would mark an epoch in history. The author deserves no end of praise for her noble work.”                                                                                              Tom McCormack, syndicated columnist, Dublin, Ireland

“Lennox has told a fascinating story with passion and commitment. Her observations on the physiology and psychology of horses are perceptive and informative.”                           Hugh MacDonald, the Herald (Glasgow), Scotland

“Now I can better understand the nature of my own Thoroughbred horses that are of the great Northern Dancer line. Thank you!”                                                                                          D. Seldes, Brussels, Belgium

“This book is very well written and informative. As well as the life-story of this remarkable animal it provides an insight into the history and workings of the racing industry. At times, it brought a tear to my eye! I have a Northern Dancer horse and I look at him with a new dimension of knowledge.”                                                                          Queensland, Australia

“As a horse trainer and owner I have found this book very interesting and entertaining.” Robert Smith Jr, Arkansas, USA

“I have two copies of your book. One to loan to friends and the other never leaves our home. I’ve read the book many times now. So while I never saw the great Northern Dancer, I now feel as if I knew him. Congratulations. And thank you.”                                 D. Zampella, Saratoga, New York, USA

“It is just right for anyone who wants to be caught up in one of the great sporting stories, heck, one of the great stories, period, this country has produced.”                                            Elizabeth Renzetti, The Globe and Mail, Toronto, Canada

Muriel Lennox did a great job in revealing Northern Dancer to us. Her words made me chill when he won the Derby, feel despair when he lost the Belmont and cry when he died in 1990. But I would like to thank Muriel for what she gave me a real look at the life of my favourite horse of all time… This is a great book and is a must read for any horse lover or fan of racing.” (Amazon.com)

“Though I’ve had no experience with horses and have never been to a race I just wanted to let you know that your book helped me appreciate more than the sport of racing, the spirit of the horses and of those involved with them. Thanks.”                                     Debbie, Toronto, Canada

“I didn’t want the book to end. I tried slowing my reading pace in the last several chapters, but I couldn’t.  Muriel Lennox is an amazing story teller.”                                       D. Vaughan, Toronto, Canada

“Fascinating equine biography.”                                                                                            Martin Zeilig – Winnipeg Free Press, Winnipeg, Canada

“Readers find themselves absorbed in Lennox’s easy style of writing.”                                     Margaret Bennett – Canadian Thoroughbred, Kelowna, Canada

Dark Horse: Unraveling the Mystery of Nearctic

“I was introduced to the intriguing world of racing by two terrific writers Dick Francis and Muriel Lennox. The real world Ms. Lennox describes is even more fascinating. Her books are an easy, fast read packed with information.

I loved reading Dark Horse even more than Ms. Lennox’s first book, Northern Dancer. For the first time, I really understood how racing bloodlines work. Even better, I got caught up in the history of racing through all the aristocratic drinkers and gamblers to the early Scots racing their shaggy ponies. It’s much more respectable today!

All in all, Dark Horse is one of those books you can’t put down. I give it five stars.” Madeline Harris, Toronto, Canada

“Muriel Lennox has once again captured the essence of the horse in her stunning biography of Nearctic. As always her writing is clear, concise and colourful. Her in-depth study of such a magnificent horse moved me deeply. I look forward to her next books. “                                                                                                                                           Karin Ucci, Barrie, Canada

“I just finished each of your two (Nearctic and Northern Dancer) books and was so delighted with your superlative narrative style as well as a much-appreciated expose and fascinating accounts of these horses/people! I couldn’t read the volumes fast enough and now am disappointed they are finished! THANKS for the “pleasure of your company! I hope you will be writing another soon indeed!”                                            Barbara Thompson, Washington, IL

“I have now read your FABULOUS book, Dark Horse. It is a masterpiece!”                        Lou Howard, Yorkshire, England

“I wish to say how much I enjoyed reading Dark Horse and congratulate you for a fine book. You are right to have fixed on the story — the best of the salad days of Ontario racing — and you tell it so well. All the players come out as they were, larger than life. especially Pete McCann, an obvious hero.”                                                                                     Nick Kasiser, Montreal, Canada

“I’ve finished the main part of Dark Horse. It’s a hard-to-put-down book. So much information with the story of Nearctic woven through it. Quite a tour-de-force. Well done!” Judith Mappin, Montreal, Canada

“This is just a note to let you know how much I enjoyed your latest book – Dark Horse. I know very little about horse racing, but the wealth of anecdotes and behind-the-scenes information kept me totally involved. Please keep up the great writing.”               Maureen Moorfield, Don Mills, Canada


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