Clare Balding tells of inspiration behind children’s book on Sidmouth visit

Clare Balding signed copies of her new book in Winstone's, Sidmouth

Clare Balding signed copies of her new book in Winstone's, Sidmouth - Credit: Archant

Acclaimed author on modern heroines and the wonders of ‘thunder thighs’

Acclaimed author Clare Balding revealed the inspiration behind her debut children’s book - and the wonders of ‘thunder thighs’ - on a special visit to Sidmouth.

The writer, rider, rambler, role model and renowned television presenter is proving popular with young generations as she weaves humour, horses and drama into what is ultimately a heart-warming tale with a ‘thoroughly modern twist’.

Best-known for her coverage of major international sporting events, Clare also has two best-selling books under her belt and her debut children’s story – The Racehorse Who Wouldn’t Gallop – is a throwback to her roots on a racing yard.

On a book-signing visit in Winstone’s, Clare revealed that she was inspired to write a children’s story for her two young nephews and niece.

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The book features horse-mad 10-year-old Charlie Bass, who accidently buys a racehorse in a bid to raise money for her family – but there’s just one problem, he won’t gallop. Clare told the Herald: “It was important to have a strong female lead. There were a couple of things I wanted - one was a heroine and she was not going to be a stick-thin princess with long hair. Charlie gets teased for having ‘thunder thighs’ and her mum says she should be proud of them.”

In fact, she adds, Charlie’s ‘thunder thighs’ ultimately save the day in the story. Clare said: “It’s my way of saying to kids who feel a bit different, or feel they are not perfect, to not worry about that - worry about whether you work hard enough, or are creative or kind to people.

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“It’s fun to write that without it being too didactic and moralistic – it’s just telling a story in which those things become apparent and as a reader you work it out yourself.”

She added that she is encouraged by the number of boys reading and enjoying the book, as it is important for them to realise ‘how bad it is to judge people by their looks’.

The author sought inspiration from horses she has known who would not gallop – in particular a successful mare, Lochsong, trained by Clare’s dad, Ian Balding, who only had two speeds - ‘very slow or flat out’.

Clare will make her final appearance as the face of British racing at Ascot on October 15, as the coverage is set to move from Channel 4 to ITV. She has plans afoot to pen more children’s stories and says Charlie is likely to make a return.

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