Professional newsmen who are dedicated to their craft are often fortunate enough to be devoted to the particular matter at hand. And when that does happen you can expect the kind of shining result that begins on page 36—the story and color photographs of Newmarket, England's ancient home of Thoroughbred racing. Writer Clive Graham describes his feelings for Newmarket as "intense, loving and special." Photographer Gerry Cranham was so taken with his subject that, to complete his picture essay, he frequently revisited Newmarket over a three-year period.
This is an article from the May 19, 1969 issue
Graham and Cranham are experienced and celebrated British journalists. Clive, an Etonian, has been in racing most of his life; he has owned bits and pieces of horses since he was 19. He joined London's Daily Express in the early 1930s and was soon writing a regular racing feature. In World War II he served in the Royal Armoured Corps before becoming a war correspondent in the China-Burma area in 1944 and '45. We often run into Clive at U.S. tracks—since 1948 he has annually observed many of our important races—and we frequently ask him for the kind of expertise that has made him England's best-known writer and television commentator on horse racing. Tall, and now graying with distinction, Clive claims his weight has not changed over the years. "It's 12 stone seven [175 pounds], topweight in a handicap race." He is, of course, a fixture at Newmarket, and he fondly recalls those years when he used to drive up from London in an open Bentley with Charlie Smirke, a colorful and talented jockey who rode for the Aga Khan. "We would come out of the Turkish baths on Jermyn Street," Graham says, "and make it up to Newmarket [62 miles] in time to see gallops in the early morning. I was often still in my dinner jacket."
Photographer Cranham has also spent most of his life around tracks, first as a schoolboy half-miler (he twice won a major junior championship) and then as a professional entranced by the color and fury of horse racing. Unlike Graham, he is no horse lover. "Unless they're on the other side of the rail I m scared stiff of 'em," he says in the high-speed mumble that is the product of a Hampshire boyhood.
Gerry has photographed 21 different sports for us in Europe and the U.S. His last major color essay, a light and airy set of photographs on the Royal Yacht Squadron (SI, July 12, 1965), was technically in precise contrast to the deep tonality of this week's compositions.