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Charlie Wood

History is supposed to be written by the victors. That can prove awkward when the vanquished refuse to submit.

This is the story of a Victorian jockey who came from the slums of Hull yet rose to the top of his profession. At the height of his powers in the 1880s, Charles Wood was Champion Jockey. His popularity and wealth disturbed the dominance of the British aristocracy in a sport where they were all powerful.

In a brutal attempt to strike his name and his achievements from the records, he was singled out and dragged into a scandal. His reputation was destroyed. In the decade that followed, he all but disappeared from racing history.

Barred from every aspect of racing, Charles Wood was nonetheless determined to defy his enemies and make a come-back. Not in a small way, but in one of the three biggest races in England. Everything hung on that one race. Winning meant redemption. Losing – all too possible in a sport where nothing was ever certain – meant banishment.

Josephine Carr’s biography of this great horseman restores Charles Wood’s place in the history of racing. She explores why he was the one jockey targeted by the Jockey Club for such severe punishment and public humiliation.

His story mirrors the social changes starting to take place in the late Victorian era. The power of aristocratic patronage was in decline as their servants became wealthy and influential in their own right.

This book charts the ruthless plot to destroy Charles Wood and shows that his enemies severely underestimated their man.

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