By Review by Norman Fine
Raja: Story of a Racehorse, Anne Hambleton, Old Bow Publishing, 2011, 250 pages, illustrated by Peggy Kaufmann, $14.95The fictional adventures and travails of a well-bred Thoroughbred foal are chronicled from the early days by his dam’s side to a Grade 1 Stakes win, to the jumpers in the “A” circuit, to the New York City Mounted Police, to foxhunting with Mr. Stewart's Cheshire Foxhounds, to the Blue Ridge Hunt point-to-point, and finally to the Maryland Hunt Cup. As a foal, Raja is cursed with a phobia for lightning—the recurring source of his many troubles along the way in achieving his potential.
This may be Anne Hambleton’s first novel, but she has had plenty of practice honing her writing skills in the business side of her life. On the equine side, Hambleton is a horsewoman who knows all the disciplines intimately, and Raja’s adventures unfold believably and with authority. The characters in the story—both animal and human—are well-crafted, and we care about them.