Horseracing is a sport of passion, opinions and failed bets on the whole - and all of these aspects are excellently captured and conveyed by author David Atkinson in his latest set of punting ramblings.
Writer of a popular horse racing blog, Atkinson's approach here is more about ad hoc postings and anecdotes than any carefully crafted narrative, a format that works well given content designed for dipping in and out.
First and foremost, Atkinson is a true horse racing fan - or anorak, you could argue - who humorously details his attempts to come to the aid of those pressing him for tips, among them one poor man who ends up having him as a private tipster for a month follow g a school auction.
The author eloquently describes the torment and suffering racing fans put themselves through when attempting to find winners, plus the often over-exuberant celebrations that follow. And any reader who has a fondness for a celebratory done kebab, for instance, will find a kindred spirit in Atkinson.
The Cheltenham Festival plays a huge role in this book, where Atkinson's previous work Mug Punting finished in 2005 and runs through to the end of last year.
Festival preview evenings, whispers from tourist information kiosks, ante-post punts and the thrill of the racing at Cheltenham are all recounted in vivid style by Atkinson, who in the style of a 'racing purist' has more than the odd moan about things as well.
Royal Ascot comes in for a good pounding by Atkinson, while the book ends with some minor hand-wringing and calls for racing to sharpen up its game without any real conclusions.
Overall, Smug Punting: More Short Tales About Long Odds is a funny, well-written, sometimes rambling affair that will ring true and sound familiar to so many who spend their time trying to unravel the intricacies of horse racing and find the odd winning bet.
Review by Peter Scargill
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