In Flying Change, the author—a son and nephew of Racing Hall of Fame horsemen and accomplished equestrian in his own right—relates the story of his return to steeplechase competition in his late 40s, a quarter-century removed from his previous horse racing career.
With humor and introspection, Patrick Smithwick recalls the difficult road from middle-age to athletic fitness in his quest to compete in the equestrian world again.
Smithwick’s book recently earned the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award for his loving detail and brutal honesty with which his story was told.
Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award
Submissions for the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award came from all over the world, included among them histories, biographies, fiction, and a volume on equine law.
In addition to the winner, finalists for 2012 were: Kentucky Derby Dreams: The Making of Thoroughbred Champions, by Susan Nusser; and The Garrett Gomez Story: A Jockey’s Journey Through Addiction and Salvation, by Rudolph Valier Alvarado, with Garrett Gomez.
Dr. Ryan, the founder of Europe’s Ryanair airline, loved a good book and horse racing. In 2006 he launched the Castleton Lyons Book Award, which with $10,000 in prize money quickly drew entries from some of the world’s best sporting authors. Dr. Ryan passed away the following year. His son Shane, president of Castleton Lyons, carried on the contest and changed the name to honor his father’s legacy.
Castleton Lyons is a Thoroughbred facility located near Lexington, Kentucky, in the heart of Blue Grass country. This ranch has produced some of America’s most notable racehorses.
Books for horse lovers
Milt Toby, Dancer’s Image: The Forgotten Story of the 1968 Kentucky Derby
Jaimy Gordon, Lord of Misrule
James E. “Ted” Bassett and Bill Mooney, Keeneland’s Ted Bassett: My Life
Rudy Alvarado, The Untold Story of Joe Hernandez: The Voice of Santa Anita
T. D. Thornton, Not By a Long Shot: A Season at a Hard-Luck Horse Track
Joe Drape, Black Maestro
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All photos courtesy of Patrick Smithwick.