The author has done supremely well in the mystery category with books like Flying Finish. Blood Sport etc., and if those had an authentic air, this is the reason. It's the autobiography of a man who was stable-ized right from the start and ended wearing the Queen's silks in the Grand National steeplechase that was to become a National disaster. Both his grandfather and father were jockeys and superb trainers but it took Dick until the late age of twenty-five to get into his first race. This is a history of an era of hunts and shows and triumph and broken bones with wonderful detail from the weighing room with its attendant valets to the winners circle with its saliva tests for drugs. Mr. Francis takes you right into the jump with insiders' information on everything from courses to the horse's conformation. Then there's that climactic moment at the National with Francis on the Irish thoroughbred Devon Loch way ahead with fifty yards to the finish and the Queen Mother waiting for the triumph... and Devon Loch sits down... Previously dubbed "the man who didn't win the Grand National," Mr. Francis may change his epitaph -- to "the bloke who writes those bloody good books.