Horse-riding crime writer receives award from grateful Czech publishers

On Thursday the British crime writer Dick Francis received an award from the Czech publishing house Olympia, which enjoys the sole rights to publish his detective stories in Czech. Francis, well-known at home but incredibly popular here in the Czech Republic, was being rewarded by Olympia for his substantial contribution to the company's success. But Mr Francis, a former jockey, spent much of his Czech visit talking about his life-long passion: horses. Alena Skodova has more:

Mr Francis began his visit to the Czech Republic on Wednesday in the town of Pardubice, home of the country's best-known horse race: the Pardubice Steeplechase. The crime writer, himself a former jockey, was photographed holding the reins of Peruan, who won the Pardubice on a number of occasions. At Thursday's press conference before receiving the award he shared his love of horses with the crowds of Czech journalists:

"I used to think there was nothing better than sitting on a horse on the side of a hill, looking out over a veil of a hunting country, and looking through the horse's pricked years, and I think, oh, you have to jump all those fences in the next minute, and there's nothing more satisfying. There is a painting by a great British painter called Snaffles, it's called "The Best View of Europe", it's a painting from the rider's point of view, looking through the pricked ears of a horse at the scene in front of him."

Mr Francis was very successful in his racing career:

"Liverpool's Aintree is a tough course, and I won quite a number of races there, I had quite a good record in Liverpool, except 1956 when I lost in the Grand National. I only missed it by the length of this room, the horse collapsed under me from here to the opposite side of this room, away from the winning post. It wasn't to be, I'm afraid."

Also present at the press conference was Senator Jaroslava Moserova, who translated all of Dick Francis's books. So what was it like translating 40 books by one author?

"It was fun, because he is a good author, I can understand that he indentifies with his principle characters and so do I, which is nice, and also it becomes easier and easier as you go on, you learn the style of the author, you get to know him, I say I know Dick better than he knows himself, and so it's really easy to translate him in the end."