What's it all about..
Coping with your own death, when you are not yet dead, is a strange thing...
A natural on a horse since he was able to walk, and imbued with a pure love of riding, Declan Murphy became one of the most brilliant jockeys of his generation before his world came crashing down at the final hurdle of a race at Haydock Park in May 1994.
What did I think about it ..
I love horses. The power of them, their shadowy grace, the sheer exhilaration of watching them move, muscles rippling. However, I also have a healthy respect for them, they scare me a little, which is why I was never an over confident rider. Now I'm older, I can't watch horse racing and I can't even bring myself to bet on the Grand National because I don't want to see either the horse or jockey fall and be injured. The image of a horse and rider going down is frightening, especially when you remember that 1,200lbs of muscle and bone is cutting through the air at tremendous speed.
In May, 1994, at Haydock Park racecourse, just a few miles from where I live, jockey, Declan Murphy was catastrophically injured when, Arcot, the horse he was riding in the 2:30 afternoon race failed at the last second to clear a hurdle. The race had been running for just 3 minutes and 27 seconds when Declan's life changed forever. Transferred to one of the best neurological specialist hospitals, The Walton Centre in Liverpool, twenty eight year old Declan's life hung in the balance.
Centaur charts Declan's long, slow journey to recovery.
I have no words to do justice to this story other than to say that I am in awe of the power of the human spirit, the sheer strength of determination and the perseverance which Declan needed in order to pick up the pieces of his shattered life is awe-inspiring.
Beautifully written by Ami Rao, Declan's unique affinity and special relationship with horses, from his childhood spent in Ireland, through to his natural ability to race horses and win, comes across with every well-chosen word. That Declan is speaking and recounting what he can barely remember, because after the accident he lost chunks of his memory, is never in any doubt. I could sense Declan's strength of spirit in every well uttered sentence, and his unique personality in every eloquent turn of phrase.
Declan's perfect symbiotic relationship and understanding of horses lies at the very heart of the story and despite the catastrophic injuries he sustained at Haydock Park, even when his own steely determination was the only driving force keeping him alive, his abiding love for horses never faltered.
I read Centaur in less than a day, travelling in Declan's footsteps on an inspirational journey, with tears shining so brightly in my eyes that at times I couldn't see the print. I had to stop and take frequent breaks in order to breathe, only to be impatient, after a few minutes, to pick up the story once again.
At the end of Declan's story I felt emotionally wiped out and completely overwhelmed by this story of a man who, with all the odds stacked against him, just wouldn't give up. Truly inspirational.
My thanks to Alison at Transworld for giving me the opportunity to read and review this amazing story.
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