Fascinating, fast paced and with shocking twists and turns until the very last,
HORSE FLESH is a breakthrough debut novel set to entertain not only horse and racing enthusiasts, but fiction fans looking for a fresh next read.
Author: Tina Sugarman
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Release Date: 1st September 2016
BLURB supplied by Authoright
Enter the highly competitive world of Standardbred horse racing, in this exhilarating debut from an insider. The story, however, goes far beyond that and touches on universal themes that every reader will recognise.
You’ll be thrust into the front car on a roller coaster ride, through triumph and disaster, that begins on page one. You’ll feel every twist and turn of the story in the pit of your stomach. You’ll laugh and cry with the rough, tough guys who put on the show, rain or shine. You’ll empathise with the women who give this world a heart. You’ll meet the cheaters who use horses as pincushions, who want to win at any price. You’ll get to know the equine athletes who give their all, whatever challenges life throws at them. Last, but not least, you’ll feel the overwhelming sense of community that pervades this world, despite the sharp edges of a highly competitive sport. If that’s not enough, there’s a backstory that will keep you on the edge of your seat, which takes you on a journey from Ontario, Canada to the Rockies, the US, the Caribbean and even the UK. The icing on the cake is an ending full of surprises that will leave you feeling well satisfied.
The characters leap off the page: a brilliant harness horse driver whose drug habit risks costing him everything, his cousin, a trainer who refuses to compromise her integrity, a mysterious individual known only as the Scorpion, lurking in the shadows, pulling the strings, the Director of Racing trying desperately to clean up the industry, his mentor and best friend who has his own agenda, a low life groom who knows too much for his own good, the Canadian Mountie who inadvertently gets involved, with unforeseen consequences, a veterinarian caught between two worlds, young horses unaware of what’s in store for them and trainers whose livelihoods hang by a thread, who face a Hobbesian choice if they are to survive. These are just some of the players in a story where passions run high and where the distinction between right and wrong, good and evil, is always blurred.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tina Sugarman has been involved with Standardbred horse racing in Ontario for nearly two decades, spending summers on a horse farm a few kilometres from Mohawk Raceway, the premier harness racing track in Canada. She lives in Poole, Dorset with her husband and their maine coon cat, Juliette and enjoys driving their hackney mare, Mango, in the New Forest. She still takes a keen interest in the sport. HORSE FLESH by Tina Sugarman
(published by Clink Street Publishing September 1st, 2016) is available to order from online retailers including Amazon and to order from all good bookstores.
At Iroquois Downs, the fillies for the fourth race were slowly making their way out onto the track, their flanks gleaming with sweat. Theo made a bee- line for the 2 horse, Heart of Darkness, who had a startling white star on her forehead and a long full mane. Along with the glamour came a ton of courage. She’d need that courage tonight. She was racing against the top three year old fillies in North America.
“She’s the best!” her trainer, Jim Mercer, growled as he handed over the lines, increasing the pressure Theo was already feeling. Theo merely nodded. He swung himself effortlessly onto the race bike, the place he felt most at home in all the world.
Out on the track, the spotlight played on him and Heart of Darkness for a brief moment. Then the filly took of on him, her neck arched, her feet dancing on the stone dust track. He glanced at the odds board. She was even money. Suddenly he felt high, a natural high that was almost as good as the drugs he did on occasion. The only cloud on his horizon was the $35,000 he owed the mysterious individual known as the Scorpion. Theo had never met him and never wanted to either. The name fit him all too well: deadly with a sting in the tail. He shuddered. $35,000! How had his cocaine habit gotten so totally out of control? He stifled the thought. For now, he needed to focus on the race ahead. He eyed the competition, careful not to speak to any of the other drivers. The judges, who watched their every move, would assume they were plotting to get a long shot home. Moose’s filly, Gypsy Queen, was the one to beat. But except for the two outsiders, Jolie Dame and Raiders Moon, it was a strong eld.
The sky darkened. Two minutes to post! Floodlights were beaming down onto the racetrack, creating the illusion of a bright sunny day. Seagulls from Lake Ontario swooped over the in eld and perched on the grandstand roof, their raucous cries filling the air. Black thunderclouds looked ready to drop their load as crowds of people clutching their tickets rushed down to the rail, anxious not to miss the start of the feature race.
Could you tell us a little about your book Horse Flesh?
After a long career and life-long personal interest in horses and horse racing this book has always been something I wanted to write and has taken a few years for me to be finally happy with the finished book.
For readers I really hope that you’ll all enjoy being thrust into the front car on a roller coaster ride, through triumph and disaster, that begins on page one. You’ll feel every twist and turn of the story in the pit of your stomach. You’ll laugh and cry with the rough, tough guys who put on the show, rain or shine. You’ll empathise with the women who give this world a heart. You’ll meet the cheaters who use horses as pincushions, who want to win at any price. You’ll get to know the equine athletes who give their all, whatever challenges life throws at them. Last, but not least, you’ll feel the overwhelming sense of community that pervades this world, despite the sharp edges of a highly competitive sport. If that’s not enough, there’s a backstory that will keep you on the edge of your seat, which takes you on a journey from Ontario, Canada to the Rockies, the US, the Caribbean and even the UK. The icing on the cake is an ending full of surprises that will leave you feeling well satisfied.
Did you basic plot/plan for your book Horse Flesh, before you actually began writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
I thought about how many books I had read where many of the secondary players were difficult to distinguish from one another. I found I often forgot who was who. I didn’t want that to happen to readers of my book. However, there were so many larger than life characters to inspire me in the world I had chosen to write about – a world I knew so well: breeders, owners, trainers, grooms, veterinarians, blacksmiths, feedmen, drivers and last but not least, the horses. And of course most of the characters did not stand alone. They had friends and families, too. My solution was to let the reader travel in the shoes of the major players for a while as each one takes up the story, telling their part in it in their own way, revealing thoughts and feelings in a personal and sometimes highly charged fashion. I reasoned that once a character had opened up to the reader in this way, they’d be difficult to forget. Though I had a vague idea about the story I wanted to tell, it was the characters who sprang to life before I even thought about the intricacies of the plot. By then, the characters were firmly in charge, always authentic, never sounding a wrong note, driving the plot along. The characters are all based on individuals within the business or certainly experiences I have had being at the centre of this industry, those who have been involved within horse racing will certainly recognise some of their traits and who knows maybe someone will recognise themselves!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about Horse Flesh?
At its heart, Harness racing is a craft, a rural pursuit that deserves to continue. There are plenty of good people out there just looking for an honest way to make a living. I wrote this book for them and for the horses who are victims of a system that is ripe for reform. This book is also dedicated to all the horses I have known, but especially the Standardbred racehorse, whose friendly, trusting nature, in my experience, is second to none in the equine world.
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