The first decade of the twentieth century featured two legendary mares, but while the first decade of the twenty-first century couldn't produce any mares to match Sceptre and Pretty Polly, it nevertheless produced some high-quality mares, none more popular than the globe-trotting Ouija Board. She raced a total of 22 times, winning 10 of them (including the Epsom Oaks and Goodwood's Nassau Stakes, races that Sceptre and Pretty Polly both won in their time) and coming close in many of the others, some of which she might have won with better luck in running. Ouija Board only finished out of the first three four times - one race where she lost a shoe early in the race, two races in which jockeys were blamed for her defeat and one race in which she finished a close-up fifth in a blanket finish. Ouija Board's extensive travels took in three different continents and impressed horse lovers everywhere she went. In a world where racing is far more competitive than it once was, Ouija Board's achievements are just as remarkable as those of Sceptre and Pretty Polly a century earlier. So much for the mare, but what of the book?
Written by Ouija Board's owner, this lavishly illustrated book understandably begins with a history of his family's involvement in horse racing. Several of his ancestors made major contributions to the sport, so much so that the race that later became the most famous flat race in the world was named after one of them. The author also tells us a bit about Ouija Board's own ancestry. One of her ancestors was a mare who was blinded before she was even of racing age, but was saved for stud duties. Though consideration was given to putting her down, her owners were rewarded for persevering despite the obvious problems, as she bred plenty of winners including Ouija Board's grand-dam. We are then treated to a brief description of Ouija Board's early life and development.
All that stuff is interesting, but then we get to Ouija Board's racing career, which is covered in much detail, including all the setbacks. Deciding which race to go for was sometimes difficult, with factors including different distances and whether to take on the colts or not. I like the story that the owner only allowed Ouija Board to race in Texas in 2004 after his wife took away the crutches he used while recovering from an injury. Upon agreeing, his crutches were returned. The family seem to be superstitious, apparently being obsessed with wearing the same supposedly lucky clothes wherever Ouija Board raced. Towards the end of the book you'll find a complete record of the results of every race in which she ran, a map showing Ouija Board's long-distance journeys, a page showing her four-generation pedigree and an index for easy reference. Yes, this book is a fitting tribute to a magnificent mare.