Book Review: Galloper Jack

All biographers would dearly love their subject to have led as colourful a life as Jack Seely, daring soldier, bold politician, interpid adventurer and member of the Isle of Wight lifeboat that saved the crew of a stricken French ship.

The author, who is a distinguisehed sports writer, had plenty of fascinating material to draw on in telling the remarkable story of his maternal grandfather. Researching and compiling this compelling tale shines as a labour of love. The former presenter of Channel 4 Racing has done his close relation proud and produced a moving, readable, but always objective account of the extraordinary career of a misunderstood statesman.

While fighting in the Boer War, Seely was elected as a Conservative MP, but, like his close friend Winston Churchill, later crossed over to the Liberals. When he was made the scapegoat for the infamous Curragh army mutiny in 1914, his time in high political office came to an abrupt end.

Forced to resign from Asquith’s War Council and then sent to the Western Front, he and his beloved horse, Warrior, somehow survived the carnage and emerged as a heroic leader of the fearless Canadian cavalry.

Perhaps inevitably, his experiences in that horrendous conflict caused him to favour appeasement in the early days of the Nazi regime.

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