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Kinane: A Remarkable Racing Family
By Anne Holland
The O'Brien Press, December 2011, 224 pages paperback

For followers of international horse racing, the name Kinane is usually preceded by Michael, or the diminutive form Mick, the highly successful jockey who has won multiple Grade and Group 1 races worldwide, and was the regular rider of 2009 superhorse Sea the Stars, who won the 2000 Guineas, Epsom Derby, and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. However, Mick is just one of many Kinanes in racing, a family with deep roots in Irish racing, especially in the National Hunt game. In her latest book, Irish racing author and amateur steeplechase rider Anne Holland tells the story about this legendary racing family who have consistently excelled through grit, talent, and a legendary work ethic that has become their trademark.

In order to more easily follow the relationships between each of the members discussed, Holland starts the book with a selected family tree of the Kinanes. The patriarch of the Kinane racing family is James (Jim), a stonemason who was the son of a grocer. He married Annie O'Brien and had 14 children, most notably Tommy, born in 1933. In his first official ride as a jockey, he was defeated by a 16-year-old rider named Lester Piggott. His younger brother Christy rode in National Hunt races before switching to training. But it was Tommy's sons who would really put the Kinane name in the forefront of Irish and later international racing. Watching their father ride in the Grand National and at the Cheltenham Festival, their minds were made up, they wanted to follow suit. They wanted to be jump jockeys.

Thomas started off as a point-to-point (amateur) rider, and then moved to professional as Tommy's riding career was winding down. He rode many horses trained by his father. Jayo was a successful National Hunt rider like his father, including several Grand National and Cheltenham appearances, and on retirement from riding, went on to work for Aidan O'Brien at Ballydoyle. Paul rode jumps internationally, riding in Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. But Mick turned out to be the best of them all. He started off racing on the flat but with jump racing as his goal, taking the job very seriously. Unlike others, he studied race replays to determine where he needed to improve. He found a diet that worked to keep his weight down but not his energy. He won the Champion Apprentice title and won the Irish 2000 Guineas in 1982, at the age of 22, as the first Kinane to win a Classic race, quickly changing his plans to follow in the family's National Hunt tradition and instead, make a name for himself in the flat sport.

Mick Kinane's 15-year tenure as the regular rider for trainer Dermot Weld led to stakes wins at home and abroad, including the Epsom Derby, the Belmont Stakes, the Hong Kong Invitation Bowl (now known as the Hong Kong Mile), and the Melbourne Cup. He rode over 1000 winners for Weld before leaving to become the stable jockey for Aidan O'Brien in 1999. For O'Brien he rode multiple stakes winners Galileo, Ciro, High Chaparral, Johannesburg, Giant's Causeway, and Rock of Gibraltar, racking up 17 Grade/Group 1 victories in 2001 alone. Leaving Ballydoyle for the yard of John Oxx put him on a half-brother to Galileo named Sea the Stars, who ran the table in 2009, going a perfect 6 for 6 all in Group 1 company, including the 2000 Guineas, Epsom Derby and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. After Sea the Stars was retired from racing at the end of the season, Mick Kinane did the same, hanging up his riding boots for good. Sadly, it also marked the end of an era, as possibly the last in a long line of Kinane jockeys. He was soon appointed by Horse Racing Ireland to promote Irish flat racing around the world.

The Kinanes were the backbone of Irish racing for half a century, and members still work in the industry, especially at Ballydoyle. Anne Holland has written a fitting tribute to this legendary racing family, who rose from poverty in rural Ireland to international success. Two separate photo sections include both color and black-and-white family and racing photographs. Fans of racing history who did not know of the background of the great Mick Kinane will be amazed to learn about the family support he had behind him, with his father, uncles, and brothers all in the business together.

Kinane: A Remarkable Racing Family has a list price of $18.95 and can be purchased from Amazon.com for $14.78.

Rating:     4/5

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