By Nicholas Godfrey
South Africa: Officially launched this week is ‘Riding For A Fall’, the first novel by former leading racing journalist Michael Clower, a veteran of both the Sporting Life and Racing Post.
Clower allegedly put away his notepad after 53 years as a scribe in December 2020, the last decade and a half of which have been spent in South Africa.
However, to call this a ‘retirement’ would not be entirely accurate as he put the finishing touches on his first work of fiction, a racing-based thriller featuring the exploits of Lambourn-based journalist/amateur jockey Rod Hutchinson. Expect a fast-moving plot as our hero discovers dodgy dealings, bent trainers and unscrupulous bookmakers.
“It has long been an ambition to write a novel,” said Clower, 77, who lives on the Cape South coast. “I started the book during the initial Covid lockdown in March/April last year, when nobody was allowed to leave their houses, and finished it about two months ago.
“I’m happy with the outcome. I think I’ve done as good a book as I can do and I found writing it compensated to a great extent for the interest and excitement that I was missing from not being on the racecourse!”
A hugely respected and popular figure in South African racing since he emigrated in 2006, Clower won the Equus Print Award for his work in 2015. After abandoning a career in accountancy, he was Irish correspondent for Pacemaker magazine and the Sporting Life while also contributing to the Sunday Times before joining the Racing Post’s Irish team when the Sporting Life was shut down.
He is also the author of four books, biographies of jockeys Mick Kinane and Charlie Swan and the great hurdler Istabraq, plus ‘KIngs of the Turf’, an account of the 12 greatest Irish trainers. He also reports on South African racing for the Irish Field.
He also rode three winners as an amateur in Kenya when he was stationed there in the late 1960s.