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'Warriors on Horseback' Ryan Book Award Winner

Warriors on Horseback CoverWarriors on Horseback, written by John Carter and published by Bloomsbury Publishing, was named the winner of the tenth annual Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award on April 13. The announcement was made at an evening reception at the Ryan family’s Castleton Lyons in Lexington, Ky.

In a year when books about jockeys were a dominant voice in horse racing publishing, Carter’s well-researched work stood out and took home the $10,000 firsts-place prize.

Carter, a noted British sports writer with a life-long interest in racing, previously authored the books Newmarket: A Year at the Home of Racing; First Past the Post: History of Horse Racing; and Play the Masters. He co-authored The Stupid Footballer is Dead.            

The other two finalists were Turning for Home, by Natalie Keller Reinert; and Ride to Win, by Bob Fortus and Gary West.

In addition to a $10,000 check, Carter received a Tipperary Irish crystal trophy formed in the shape of the farm’s distinctive medieval-style tower. Runners-up received $1,000 each, along with smaller versions of the trophy.

In beautiful springtime weather, approximately 100 people attended the reception held in a loft above the historic stallion barn, home these days to three-time Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti and Grade 1-winning Justin Phillip.

Warriors on Horseback was met with enthusiasm from all three of this year’s judges: Eclipse Award winner Kay Coyte, recently retired managing editor of the Washington Post-Bloomberg News Service; TVG broadcaster Caton Bredar, who will soon be covering the Kentucky Derby for the 12th consecutive year for Louisville’s NBC affiliate; and Andrew Plattner, winner of last year’s Book Award for his novel Confessions of a Rust Belt Jockey, and currently Visiting Writer at the University of Tampa.

“Carter’s very personal preface laid out his premise for Warriors on Horseback – that jump and flat-racing jockeys in Britain and beyond are a strange and courageous breed, and that how they tick begs for deeper investigation,” lead judge Coyte said. “He accomplished his goal with elegant prose and thorough reporting in this book aimed at the casual horse racing fan, but just as gratifying to those of us with a working knowledge of the sport.”

Plattner called Warriors on Horseback “smartly written all the way” … while Bredar noted that she could “feel the author’s passion for the subject and learned a lot in the reading.”

The Castleton Lyons Book Award was instituted in 2006 by noted philanthropist and global businessman Dr. Tony Ryan, founder of Ryan Air. Since his 2007 passing, the name has been changed to honor its founder, and it has been sponsored annually since by Dr. Ryan’s son, Shane, current president of Castleton Lyons.

Winners of the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award.

2015 – John Carter, Warriors on Horseback

2014 – Andrew Plattner, Offerings from a Rust Belt Jockey

2013 – David Owen, Foinavon: The story of the Grand National's biggest upset

2012 – Patrick Smithwick, Flying Change: A year of Racing and Family and Steeplechasing

2011 – Milton Toby, Dancer's Image: The Forgotten Story

2010 – Jaimy Gordon, Lord of Misrule

2009 – James E. "Ted" Bassett and Bill Mooney, Keeneland's Ted Bassett: My Life

2008 – Rudy Alvarado, The Untold Story of Joe Hernandez: The Voice of Santa Anita

2007 – T.D. Thornton, Not By a Long Shot: A Season at a Hard Luck Horse Track

2006 – Joe Drape, Black Maestro



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