Former Jockey and best selling author Dick Francis dies at 89.
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Posted 14 February 2010 - 04:42 PM
Former jockey turned best-selling author Dick Francis died today at the age of 89. Francis was one of Britain's most famous steeplechase jockeys and achieved even greater celebrity status as an international best-selling thriller writer.
As a champion jockey who for four seasons rode for the Queen Mother, he took part in 2,305 races from 1948 to 1957 winning 345 of them. Probably his most famous race for his Royal patron was the 1956 Grand National, when he had been on course for certain victory when his horse Devon Loch collapsed
Francis retired after a bad fall just a few months later. That same year he published his autobiography and five years later his first novel, Dead Cert. It was the start of a prolific writing career that saw a new novel published every year in at least 23 languages, with the Queen Mother reputedly one of his most enthusiastic readers.
Francis was handed an OBE in 1984 and then made a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in 2000. His last three novels were written with his younger son, Felix, a former teacher, who had previously helped research much of his work. Today, Felix said he was 'devastated' as he paid tribute to his 'extraordinary' father.
The writer's spokesman said he was 'rightly acclaimed' as one of the best thriller writers in the world. The novelist had been living on the Cayman Islands in his latter years. A spokesman said he had died of 'old age'.
His son said in a statement: 'My brother, Merrick, and I are, of course, devastated by the loss of our father, but we rejoice in having been the sons of such an extraordinary man.'We share in the joy that he brought to so many over such a long life. It is an honour for me to be able to continue his remarkable legacy through the new novels.' Francis wrote a volume of short stories, an autobiography and the biography of Lester Piggott.
Even Money, written with Felix, was published in September 2009 and Crossfire, the pair's new novel together, is due to be published this autumn.
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