Apr 28, 2008

In which we fill time before the Breeders' Cup. TB #17: Ashleigh's Farewell

Ashleigh's Farewell
by Karen Bentley
Thoroughbred #17
Originally Published: 1996

Our second joint review. We find that going through the Cindy era together is better than going it alone.

Mara: I remember back when this book first came out, wondering just where Ashleigh was going. I mean, with a title like Ashleigh's Farewell she had better be going somewhere. Looking at the cover, I can't help but wonder if Ashleigh has decided to retire from racing and live in that little shack on the hillside. Perhaps she's striving to become a hermit. Also, look out! The denim is back!

Monique: I was wondering the same thing. At least Glory looks like a TB on this cover! Note Cindy's pants. They are so high, they could double as a bra. Oh, and that "The Bestselling Series" rosette thing? Yeah, that they can stick right over Cindy's face, even though she is smiling on this cover.

Who will ride Glory?
Glory is facing the biggest race of his career, and his jockey, Ashleigh Griffen, won't be riding him because she's going to have a baby. Cindy Blake, whose family owns Glory, hopes that they can find a new jockey fast.
But jockey tryouts are a disaster. First Glory bolts, then he tries to throw the jockey. Can Cindy help get Glory back on track before her dreams of a championship are lost forever?


1. Incompetence!
Ashleigh gets pregnant and can no longer ride Glory. The sky practically falls. The rest of the book involves various jockeys who were successful before they met Glory trying to take Ashleigh's place. Then Ben miraculously appears and decides that the solution to Glory's problem is a trail ride with Just Victory. Like that's a cure all, or something. Then Felipe Aragon shows up, works Glory in company, and miracle of miracles they win the Travers by 15 lengths! Really, all of this could probably have been avoided had they worked Glory in company from the start.

2. Brad!
He somehow manages to get Ashleigh to give him half interest in Glory in exchange for letting Ashleigh keep Champion at Whitebrook. Honestly, I think breeding rights could have covered that but of course that's not dramatic enough. So now Townsend Acres owns Glory also and Cindy's all woebegone about it.

Oddities by Mara:
  • I don't know what it is, but Ashleigh insisting that Glory should know she's pregnant makes me roll my eyes. Oh, I know why. Probably because it's stupid.
  • Notice how the first thing Cindy does after discovering Ashleigh's pregnancy is to be self-absorbed and worry about her future with Glory? She doesn't even congratulate her. Oh, to be reminded of why I hated Cindy.
  • Cindy is intimidated by a girl wearing a black miniskirt, black tights, a "gold-spangled" shirt, and black "chunky" sandals. Because the girl doesn't seem to register that Cindy is actually two feet from her, Cindy pegs the girl a snob. Because she didn't notice the brilliance of Cindy, or her faded green Churchill Downs t-shirt? Exactly how many strangers is one expected to smile demurely at in the course of a day? And why doesn't Cindy have anything to wear besides dirty jeans and faded t-shirts? If she's easily intimidated by spangles, perhaps she should try...I don't know...buying new clothes occasionally.
  • Wow, am I not sympathetic to Glory's plight.
  • All of a sudden Brad's training and riding the horses himself instead of relying on "stable hands" to do such tasks for him. I guess Maddock has left the building. Also, Dandy as He Does? I know I complain about the lack of originality in some of these horses' names, but Dandy as He Does?
  • Glory's new jockey keeps holding the horse back as Mike moans about why the jockey keeps, um, holding him back while the description is outright stating that Glory is bolting. Brad mutters "because the horse is running away." See, this is why I love Brad. He calls it as he sees it.
  • Yet again, Miss Perfectly Dressed doesn't give Cindy the time of day. The horror!
  • "Cindy hated bad sports." The irony!
  • I think I have the problem pegged now. Anne (Miss Perfectly Dressed) and Cindy (Miss Never Launders Her Clothes) are both spoiled brats. Naturally this would cause some conflict before they both realize that they're inclined to fall into a friendship forged by mutual snobbery.
  • Yeah. Cindy? Snobby? No! Perish the thought!
  • The talking. During the races. Must. Stop.
  • Yes, Cindy, that one tiny second place finish has ruined Glory's career. Yup. Sure.
  • Ah, my beloved Pittsburgh is mentioned and disrespected by being called "Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania" as if there is another Pittsburgh. Where would this other Pittsburgh be, Karen? Where?
  • I'm trying to figure where this horse hotel (or whatever) would be if they could see the lights of Pittsburgh from their hotel room. I've determined that this is impossible.
  • Apparently the sight of downtown Pittsburgh makes Samantha cry. Not quite sure why other than the extremely vague "I was here before..." explanation that degenerated into backstory we basically already knew.
  • Champion suffers his first color change. He appears first as a dark brown, and now he's a dark chestnut. At some point in this series I think he's also described as black and mahogany, so this is just the first of many changes.
  • Cindy informs Heather that she needs to buy Ashleigh a present and Heather asks, "Why? Are you just being nice?" Clearly this concept is foreign to Heather also.
  • Yes, to ride western you must have: chaps, cowboy boots, and a cowboy hat. They are essential!
  • Yay. Ben has descended from on high to proclaim that Cindy should ride Glory. Yay.
  • You know, Storm's Ransom has a pretty pedestrian pedigree. His father had "few winners" and his dam's other foals sucked. Exactly what is supposed to be appealing here?
  • Karen Bentley has this obsession with the word "exquisite." With Joanna, it was Jeep Cherokees. With Bentley, it's the impulse to call every horse exquisite.
  • So Ben's solution to Glory's issues is a trail ride with Just Victory. Yeah, that makes sense. Sure.
  • People thought Just Victory's white hind hooves were a disadvantage? When did Just Victory race? The 1940s?
  • Just Victory won the Kentucky Derby by 20 lengths. Yeah, so thrilled.
  • Cindy is shocked that Felipe Aragon, Flightful's jockey, could ride Glory. Probably because he's a jockey and doesn't care?
  • Why Ashleigh gives Brad something for nothing has always astonished me.
  • Samantha remarks that Felipe is hand-riding the colt. Like this is special and unexpected. Glory freaks out at whips, or have we forgotten again?
  • We end the book with a completely unnecessary scene involving Brad yanking Glory's lead rope and checking his legs. This is supposed to be evil, but I can't for the life of me figure why.

Interesting Points by Monique:
  • In the first chapter alone, Cindy is timid once and shy twice. I think she is also coy a few times too later on... who would have thought.
  • Ok, so Ashleigh is pregnant. Wow. I didn't see that one coming. I bet I can guess the birth date and name of the kid too. ACM, anyone?
  • Why is a new jockey such a crisis? I could understand if Glory was scared, but hell. Cindy can ride him, so a jockey with one leg can too.
  • What is the purpose of Anne Tarin? So Cindy can have another person to brag to who isn't as good as she is?
  • Ah, so Ashleigh admits that she doesn't like leaving Whitebrook in the hands of the grooms. Well, you know, that took her long enough.
  • Glory loses! And it's the jockey's fault, of course.
  • Anne states that she "is used to losing horses" does she means horses that lose or horses that go away? You know, I bet some snide voice in Cindy's head asked that same question.
  • Four Leaf Clover is sold and is going to Arabia. Cindy wonders if they will keep his name. Yeah sure, Cindy. They are really big into naming expensive Thoroughbreds after My Little Pony characters there.
  • Ms. Bentley thinks that tacking "Time" onto the end of a random word makes a good name for a racehorse.
  • Yeah freaking right. If Just Victory is such a famous horse, why would his owner let a random 19 year old just ride him... and gallop him no less?
  • Miracle upon miracles! We find a jockey that listens to what people tell him and that Glory likes! Rah, rah. It's Flightful's jockey, Filipe Aragon, who is also known as Strider... wait... I am getting my books confused...
  • All ends well, aside from the fact that Glory is now co-owned by a whip-toting Brad Townsend. You know, I really wish they could think of a new device for conflict.

Monique: I suppose I am hitting Glory's Rival next. In which the rivalry never really happens and I yell out loud at the book.

Mara: Damn. I need to take another break, I think.


Anonymous said...

This was so funny! Horses who don't place first either a) suck b) stumbled\broke badly\were bumped... or c) were handled badly. At least, Whitebrook horses. Whitebrook horses are perfect! :p

Oooh I can't wait for Glory's Rival, I HATED THAT ONE!

Anonymous said...

Ashleigh giving away half of Glory pissed me off too. it seems that no one in the TB series can grasp the concept of 50/50 ownership. she has just as much right to have Champion as Brad does, and even though she's not the kid she was in Pride's time, she still lets the Townsends walk all over her. she shouldn't have had to give them anything, she should have just gotten a lawyer and settled it that way. who's to say that Brad won't revoke his side of the offer unless Ashleigh gives him something else?

Anonymous said...

:D Great post!

Ooh, Glory's Rival-- worst ever!

Stacie said...

This is a wonderful site! I wish I would've discovered this when I first started rereading the TB series. I orginally only made it to #17. Then quit for quite a few years. So it was my first time reading #17. Like most out there, I HATE Cindy! She's a very arrogant, spoiled girl.

As for the the book. Yet again another horse that is fussy about his jockey. Whatever. And peeking at a few books in the future, it won't be the last.

The margins that Glory wins by??? Puh-lease. And that's including his sire.

Why can't any of the Whitebrook horses have an average race day! If they don't win it's always second. What about a 3rd at least!

There is a comment in this book stating that Glory is one of the most famous race horses in the world. What?! Up until the end of this book, he's raced 3 times. Why doesn't Shining ever get much credit? She wins everything under the sun.

Looking forward to the rest of the comments on this series.