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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read, and a Must for the Flat-Racing Fan
"Frankincense and More" - the title referring to the horse who carried out Barry Hills' life-changing gamble in the Lincoln Handicap - is Robin Oakleys second Racing-book; I know the first one came in for some critic from Lambourn-insiders, but I liked "Valley of the Horses" and I liked this one just as well.

Barry Hills' life is certainly worth a story or two...
Published on 27 Sept. 2010 by Catrin Nack

versus
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not well written, sloppy, and not very interesting
I have to say I am very disappointed with this book. It is not well written, does not appear to have been properly proof-read, and is a not very interesting book about a man who has had a long and successful career and life. More than anything, it comes across as a collection of bits and pieces of facts and snippets of conversation that have been jammed together in a not...
Published on 27 Dec. 2010 by Gerry


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read, and a Must for the Flat-Racing Fan, 27 Sept. 2010
By 
Catrin Nack (Hamburg Germany) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
"Frankincense and More" - the title referring to the horse who carried out Barry Hills' life-changing gamble in the Lincoln Handicap - is Robin Oakleys second Racing-book; I know the first one came in for some critic from Lambourn-insiders, but I liked "Valley of the Horses" and I liked this one just as well.

Barry Hills' life is certainly worth a story or two (or three, or four), and Robin Oakley writes well, obviously with a lot of sympathy for his subject. After a couple of chronological chapters of Barrys early days - and the Frankincense Gamble- the story reverts to seperate chapters about horses, people and/or races who shaped Barrys life, and this concept does work very well.

Every chapter brings back memories - Manton, Robert Sangster, Guy Reed, Moonax, Further Flight, Rheingold, to name a few - and Oakley easy-to-read style, with a lot of quotes from those involved - bar the horses ! - makes you flying through the pages.
Some personal topics, such as Barrys divorce from his first wife Maureen, fall under "personal friendship" and are only touched with kidgloves, but Oakley trys hard to create some sort of balanced account, for us outsiders at least. All his sons have their own chapter - Richard and Michael obviously share one - and they all make fascinating reading.
As a Flat-Racing Fan you cannot afford to miss this book, and it certainly makes a smashing christmas pressie too !
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Barry Hills biography, 22 Nov. 2010
By 
Mr. G. R. Giles "3702pj" (Somerset UK) - See all my reviews
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This book was bought for my wife who praised it from the moment she picked it up.
An excellent present for any racing fan
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 4 Dec. 2010
By 
El Gran Senor (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
An excellent book. A must for any flat racing fan and keen punter. Found the chapters covering Barry's views on betting and the Manton years particularly interesting. One comes away appreciating the shrewdness of Barry Hills.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not well written, sloppy, and not very interesting, 27 Dec. 2010
I have to say I am very disappointed with this book. It is not well written, does not appear to have been properly proof-read, and is a not very interesting book about a man who has had a long and successful career and life. More than anything, it comes across as a collection of bits and pieces of facts and snippets of conversation that have been jammed together in a not very interesting way. In my opinion, the Introduction (about Frankincense and the gamble) was the most interesting chapter of the book so far. (I've read up to p82!).

Of the 18 chapters:-
Chapter 11 is entitled "John Hills: The Making of a Trainer".
Chapter 12 is entitled "The Hills Twins: Brothers and Allies".
Chapter 13 is entitled "Richard Hills"
Chapter 14 is entitled "Michael Hills"
Chapter 15 is entitled "Charles, George and Patrick Hills".

Now I'm sure Barry loves all his kids, and I'm sure they are all worthy of respect, but it's Barry I want to read about - I don't want 5 chapters on his kids and grandkids.

To justify some of my earlier comments, I would offer the following examples:-

On p22 we are told that Barry was granted his jockey's licence on 5 June 1952. On p23, we are told he had his first public ride on 3 June 1952 at Birmingham. Now I don't actually think that could have happened - that he could have had his first ride in a race under Jockey Club rules before he had been granted a licence. But at the very least, it requires a bit of explanation, surely?

On p27, we read "The cheery Willie Carson.. says Maureen was a wonderful cook" , which leaves the reader wondering - who is Maureen? Then 2 pages later, we read "Maureen Hills, Barry's first wife, says.." ... ah, I see. That's who she is!!

In the chapter on Rheingold, we get this (regarding the horse's 4yo season) ... "He then won the Prix Ganay in France and the Hardwicke Stakes before returning to France to collect a second Grand Prix de Saint Cloud. Then came the Benson and Hedges once more." We then get the story of him being beaten in the B&H (in August), then the story of him winning the Arc, but being passed over by British commentators for the
Horse of the Year award in favour of Dahlia, who beat him in the King George and QE at Ascot!! SO, where is the mention of the KG&QE in the list of races given earlier? There was no mention of it then! It must have come before the B&H as the race is run in July. Where's the proof-reading?

In the chapter on Dibidale, we read that Willie Carson rode her first time out, and was very very impressed with her, even though she finished 6th, but then he was claimed by Bernard van Cutsem and couldn't ride her in her second race, when she was beaten a head when ridden by "another jockey". Well who was this other jockey? Couldn't you be bothered finding out? How about getting hold of a form book for 1974 and looking it up?

Then how about this for a sentence (which forms a whole paragraph), about Hawaiian Sound...
"Some say that, ridden again by Shoemaker, Hawaiian Sound should have won the Irish Derby, in which he was once more beaten by Shirley Heights, to whom he also finished third in the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, again ridden by Shoemaker".

I know what the author is trying to say, but it's just an ugly sentence, and should never have passed a proof-reading.

I could quote many more examples of poorly-constructed sentences and paragraphs, and inaccurate statements - like saying that "Duboff won all her 9 races in England". No she didn't. You needed to say something like "in her 3yo season", or "that year" to make that statement correct.

To sum up, I've only got to p82, and I'm struggling to carry on with it. I probably will, because I'm interested in the man, his horses, his training, and his betting - but not the book, sadly. Frankincense and More: The Biography of Barry Hills
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5.0 out of 5 stars Frankincense and More, 7 Jan. 2011
By 
K. Jones "KJ 147" (Virginia Water, England) - See all my reviews
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Very well written by an author that understands horse racing. Mr Oakley's biography is an excellent read and strongly recommended. An almost rags to riches story of a trainer that has created a family dynasty in the wonderful world of horseracing. Reliving past horses and races was a trip down memory lane for me and I was surprised of how many great horses the trainer had expertly handled. To be at the top of his trade for over 30 years is testament to his staying power and tenacity. The betting angle was very interesting and I would have liked the author to have dug a little deeper but the book didn't disappoint and is a winner.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Antibiography!, 4 Mar. 2012
I always thought that biographies were supposed to get under the skin of their subject. In this book you learn more about the characteristics of Mr Hill's horses.
I can understand that people like privacy; but if you wish to put your name to a document, surely you have to open up. There is little mention of his divorce, and no depth to any account of relationships. There are references to cancer and septicemia, but that is it. The reader is not told anything about what must have been dramatic parts of the subject's life. Very disappointing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars From Head Lad To Top Man., 26 Jan. 2015
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Great read i have identified with subjects both human and equine with great joy. Barry did not
have the necessary capital to begin training as a very young man and because of that was
both able and capable to gain vast experience with the likes of George Colling and John Oxley,
what better start could an aspiring trainer have had.
As a man and father he as set an example not only to his sons but to anyone who was prepared to
listen or should i say observe,Barry is very much a do as i do person.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Life of BW Hills, 11 Jan. 2011
I was fortunate to have read excerpts from the book when it was serialised in the Racing Post so I was already gripped prior to purchasing the book.I found it easy reading. The man himself is a legend and has created a racing dynasty. I enjoyed reading of his daring exploits in the betting ring helping to relieve the strain on the bookies overbulging satchels, a refreshing change, and how he overcame ill health. He has led a most interesting life and long may it continue.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Frankincense and More, 30 Jan. 2012
By 
A. Knowles "horse lover" (The Cotswolds, U.K.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Frankincense and More: The Biography of Barry Hills (Paperback)
An excellent read. Well written, interesting and providing a fascinating insight into the training methods and family life of the great Barry Hills. From his start in racing, majoring on that famous bet on Frankincense in the Lincoln, which enabled him to buy his training stables, through detailed accounts of his top horses, this is a book that can be read time and time again.
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3.0 out of 5 stars I did not finish the book......, 24 Nov. 2010
By 
I had high expectations given the subject and the author, however although there were some interesting anecdotes, I actually did not finish the book as i became somewhat bored of the story. In my view there are ar more insightful biographies of racing trainers - Martin Pipe and Mark Johnstone spring to mind.
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Frankincense and More: The Biography of Barry Hills
Frankincense and More: The Biography of Barry Hills by Robin Oakley (Paperback - 20 May 2011)
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