BOOK REVIEW: When an Alfriston Horse won the Grand National

Horses in Alfriston. Photograph: Kevin Gordon
Horses in Alfriston. Photograph: Kevin Gordon

Today, the pleasant site of a horse clopping through the High Street of a village attracts attention and people may even stop to take a photograph.

Until about 100 years ago, however, this would have been a commonplace occurrence as horses would have been an integral part of village life. There were numerous stables and blacksmiths.

Alfriston had more than its share of horses, however, as it had a racecourse and was a centre of racehorse training.

Cheryl Lutring lives in Alfriston and has a lifelong interest in all things equine. Her new book ‘Hooves in the High Street’ details the horse history of the village.

I admit I am not a horsey person (my only time on horseback was riding a donkey around Polegate windmill during a fete) but I really enjoyed this book.

Horses were so integral to the life of Alfriston that this is not only a book about horses but also a history of the village and some of the characters that lived there. For many years village life revolved around the horse. Stable lads were required and local inns would accommodate visiting owners keen to check their thoroughbreds. One Alfriston horse – ‘Wild Man from Borneo’ – even went on to win the Grand National!

Horses would be seen on the surrounding downland, in the High Street and on the village green (the Tye). But not just racehorses, Cheryl has also covered the working horse too.

Cheryl’s book is well-researched and well-illustrated. She has tried to establish the exact whereabouts of the Alfriston racetrack and has even managed to unearth and photograph that Grand National winner – quite a feat considering that he died more than 100 years ago. (His stuffed head is now in the stores of the Aintree Racecourse museum.)

Cheryl should be congratulated for her work and publishing this interesting book.

‘Hooves in the High Street’ is available from Amazon, The Gun Room, in Alfriston (Rathfinny Wine Estate cellar door), and directly from the author at