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The Sport of Kings

The Sport of Kings
Kinship, Class and Thoroughbred Breeding in Newmarket


  • Date Published: August 2002
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521004879

£ 24.99

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About the Authors
  • The Sport of Kings is an ethnography of the British racing industry based upon two years of participant observation in Newmarket, the international headquarters of flat racing. Racing in Britain provides a lens through which ideas of class, status, tradition and hierarchy can be examined in an environment which is both superficially familiar and richly exotic. This book explores concepts about 'nature' specific to thoroughbred racehorse breeding, and pursues the idea that in making statements about animals, we reveal something of ourselves. It explains the action that takes place on racecourses, in training yards, on studs and at bloodstock auctions. It analyses the consumption of racing through betting on the racecourse and in betting shops, and it proffers an insightful description of a unique class system: that of the humans and animals involved in the production of British flat racing.

    • Unique 'behind the scenes' description of racing society in Britain
    • Based on first-hand experience of all aspects of the subject matter, including riding and caring for the racehorses
    • Strong contribution to debates in anthropology on the status of kinship, relations between humans and animals, reproductive technologies and ideas of 'nature' and the 'natural'
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This is an exhilarating book. You feel affection and empathy for Newmarket people … Above all, the reader feels affection towards the author … we watch over her, sleeping in the back of a smelly horse box, returning from a race … [The book] is both academic and animal, with the author putting herself on the line.' The Times Higher Education Supplement

    '… a finely nuanced analytical and interpretative account of the society and culture that centers on producing and interacting with the most expensive animals in the world. Anthrozoology needs many more such studies.' Anthrozoös

    'This entertaining book deals with kinship, class, and breeding through an ethnographic study of the racing industry, and, specifically, of the Newmarket stud farm and racing stables … Her background is comfortable enough for her to move between different social groups, her authorial expertise deriving from her roles as owner, trainer, trainer's assistant, stable lass, and stud hand. … This enjoyable book is recommended as a case study to those who wish to have some idea of the interaction of British class, capital, and kinship in the racing industry, without the financial outlay that hands-on experience requires.' Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2002
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521004879
    • length: 200 pages
    • dimensions: 232 x 156 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.441kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Headquarters
    3. Keeping it in the family
    4. At the races
    5. Having a flutter
    6. Going once, going twice …
    7. One of the lads
    8. Doing it for Daddy
    9. Blood will tell
    10. Conclusions
    List of references

  • Author

    Rebecca Cassidy, Goldsmiths, University of London
    Rebecca Cassidy is Lecturer in Anthropology at Goldsmiths College, University of London.

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