Sean O'Shea by Sean O'Shea
Author and famed jockey Dick Francis dies
Posted on Monday, February 15, 2010 at 01:22 PM
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Dick Francis, best-selling author, has died at 89 in the Cayman Islands.
A former jockey, Francis's novels were all in racetrack settings an arena he knew intimately.
He wrote wrote 42 novels, but may be best known for a bizarre episode as a jockey in 1956 when seemingly riding the Queen's horse Devon Loch to victory in Britain's biggest race the Grand National. Within sight of the finish line Devin Loch jumped a shadow and fell down losing the race.
Ironically the Queen became a huge fan of the Francis novels later.
Richard Francis was born on Oct. 31, 1920, in Tenby, South Wales. His father was a horse breeder. After serving in World War II in the Royal Air Force, he returned to his father's stables and later took a job as an assistant trainer of steeplechase horses. He began riding in 1948.
His first book, published in 1957, was an called autobiography, "The Sport of Queens." His first novel, "Dead Cert," a racing mystery, was published in 1962. At the time the books were written, Francis was working as a racing correspondent for several British publications.
His last two books were co-written with his son Felix. Their final collaboration, "Crossfire," is scheduled to appear later this year.
"It is an honor to continue his remarkable legacy through the new novels," Felix Francis said in a statement released by the family.