Located close to Newmarket, we’re always interested to hear about the racing legends who have lived there. So when we were approached by Diana Reynolds, a writer who also happens to be the great-granddaughter of one of the most famous jockeys in racing history, we were only too happy to help with her book.
Fred Archer is described by the National Horseracing Museum as “the best all-round jockey that the turf has ever seen.” The AP McCoy of the 1880s, he had an incredible series of achievements in his too-brief career, setting records for the number of Champion Jockey titles (13), number of wins in a season (246) and the number of race wins (2,748), a record which held firm well into the 20th century.
But Archer’s life was not a happy one. He married Helen, the niece of his trainer Mat Dawson, but they suffered some dreadful tragedies, and she very sadly died in childbirth having their daughter, Nellie Rose. Archer himself had struggled with depression, and he committed suicide at the age of just 29. His daughter succeeded him and a monument to them both stands proudly in Newmarket cemetery today.
His great-granddaughter, Diana Reynolds, is a Norfolk-born writer who has always been fascinated by her great-grandfather’s life. She has written the book, titled Just One More Smile, to tell the story of the relationship between Fred and Helen, and to bring his career to life once more. “It’s a heart-wrenching tale,” she says, “But it’s an incredible story. Fred had such an exciting career, but it was so tragic what happened to them both. I wanted to tell his story so other people could discover it for themselves.” She is now working on a sequel, about the life of Nellie Rose.
The project was managed at Victoire by Adrian, who has very much enjoyed being involved. Victoire has managed the styling and layout, preparing it all ready to print. The book comes in at 220 pages and features a very attractive and atmospheric cover design. Initially 50 copies are to be printed, though if there is significant interest more will be produced at a later date. As well as telling the romantic, yet tragic, story of Fred and Helen, it contains plenty of historically accurate accounts of races and events from the time, which are bound to be of great interest to fans of horseracing and local history.
“It’s great being involved in the publishing of a book,” Adrian commented. “We’re always happy to help writers who wish to see their work brought to life. Diana’s book is a really moving and well done tribute to her great-grandfather, and I’m sure there will be much local interest, as well as from the wider racing community.”
Anyone interested in obtaining a copy of the book can contact Diana on 07787 418748 or firstname.lastname@example.org