Turn me on Gov

 It would have been inappropriate to call this book 'Schadenfreude.' Had we done so we might have sold a few copies in Germany at best. Alas, the thought of an unattended book signing in Dusseldorf did not quite hold the same appeal of one man and a dog ateending a similar function at Cheltenham or Newbury so we went with Turn Me On Guv, something more traditionally English.

 But the German word sums up much of the essence of this collection of anecdotes - the derivation of pleasure from the misfortune of others. I don't feel too bad about that because I like to think I practise a bit of self-schadenfreude - if there is such a thing.

Since I joined the Daily Telegraph back in 1993, I have produced a weekly column, the racing diary which, I hope, provides a little light entertainment for those (close relations) who read it for breakfast. That is certainly the idea. Like Hot Cherry, this book's predecessor, it is the best (least worst), most recent stories to have appeared in that column which I hope have raised a smile at the time and that they continue to do so.

So why Turn Me On Guv? Hot Cherry was so called because Hot Cherry, an inflatable doll used to breaik in a difficult horse, was one of the stars of the book. For continuity we were quite keen on Hot Cherry Rides Again but, after suffering a couple of unfortunately terminal puncture wounds on her epic gallop through a Kent village, there was no way she'd ride anything again.

Turn Me On Guv is the punchline to one iof the stories involving the Derby winning trainer Mike bell and the highly successful but also extremely attractive female jockey Hayley Turner but beyond that I will not spoil it for you.

I hope that one of the attractions of the column and, therefore, the book is that it does not require of the reader an intimate knowledge of racing or horses but just a passing interest. It should suit the expert just as well as the man in the street who only really wants to get infront of the television to watch a race once or twice a year, usually for the Grand National or Derby.

HOT CHERRY what's it all about?

I once read in an obituary that the recently deceased had a great sense of humour 'but never at anyone else's expense.' They won’t, alas, write that of me when I’m gone.

For most of the 12 years that I have been employed as a racing correspondent for the Daily Telegraph I have written a weekly column, variously called 'on Saturday' or, when it hasn’t appeared on a Saturday (for obvious reasons), the 'Racing Diary.' Latterly I have written once fortnightly for the Horse & Hound .

In these columns we have tried to come up with amusing anecdotes from the extremely colourful sport of horseracing. Many of the characters we’ve come across have not been Champions or multiple winners but people who have lived off their wits and, thankfully, their bottomless pit of humour.

If it is stuff on racing’s most successful you’re looking for then in Hot Cherry you’re probably looking in the wrong place. Often the stories involve hideous misfortune of which there seems an unending source where horses are concerned and, equally often, it has been politically incorrect for which we make absolutely no apology. In fact if you’re at all sensitive or a crusader for political
correctness then I’d advise you to put this book down at once.

The idea behind the Daily Telegraph column has always been to lighten up racing for people who might not necessarily be experts or fanatical punters though hopefully they might have been tickled occasionally. Instead we’ve tried to draw in people from outside racing and those with just a passing interest so we hope this collection has a wider appeal than your average 100 percent-proof racing book.

Equally not everyone (sadly) reads the Daily Telegraph and some who do don’t get as far as the sports pages hence the reason for putting together the best (make that least worst) items under one roof for those who may be unfamiliar with them.

Undoubtedly the best things about Hot Cherry are the illustrations by Peter Curling, Ireland’s foremost equine artist and raconteur. His serious stuff, I might add, is even better than his sketches for this book. We were lucky to get him on board before one of his commissions was sold at a charity auction for two million Euros and he got any high-faluting ideas about payment.