The Woman Who Defied the Nazis in the World’s Most Dangerous Horse Race
A story that defies belief: National Velvet meets Downton Abbey with a splash of The Leopard.
Lata Brandisová was a truly inspiring woman: a shy countess who achieved the seemingly impossible. Not only was she the first woman to win the toughest horse race in the world, she was also the first woman to even take part. She had to fight a ferocious battle against prejudice simply to get to the starting line. She then showed repeatedly that she was tougher and better than the best male jockeys of her day. She won her greatest victory at the age of forty-two, in circumstances of extraordinary historical drama, on the eve of the Second World War, in a desperate showdown with Nazi Germany. Some believe that, by defeating the feared horsemen of Himmler's SS cavalry, she provoked Hitler into war.
And that, remarkably, is only part of the story. She was stripped of her title, she defied both the Nazis and the Communists and was punished by both, she had her home and possessions taken away, her heart was broken in love and her successes in the saddle resulted from an even deeper love between her and her horses.
Above all, it’s the inspiring story of a woman who stayed true to herself in a man’s world, refusing to be swayed from her chosen path no matter what the dangers or difficulties. In short: it’s the story of a woman who was unbreakable.
“[An] astonishing story… beautifully pieced together by journalist Richard Askwith… Unbreakable is…much more than simply the story of a horse race. It is also a compelling insight into the fading days of the Habsburg empire and the rise of the women’s liberation movement between the two wars… exceptional…[and] heart-stopping reading which left me in tears”
Clover Stroud, Daily Telegraph
“[An] extraordinary story… Askwith’s compelling book, as much about 20th-century history and women’s equality as it is about racing, is a fitting tribute to a truly remarkable and courageous woman”
Camilla Swift, Mail on Sunday
“Askwith… writes beautifully… One of the most remarkable racing stories I have ever had the pleasure of reading”
Thoroughbred Owner & Breeder
“[This] thoroughly researched, deeply moving account does justice to a remarkable life”
John Cobb, Racing Post
“This is a truly great story which has the reader rooting for a 41-year-old woman of whom most will have never heard”
Peter Sharkey, The Post
“Lata Brandisová’s story is remarkable… Stirring, vivid stuff”
“A fabulously written book about a remarkable lady. A must-read for National Hunt enthusiasts”
James Fry, International Racing Bureau
“Astonishing, inspiring, sad… I found it utterly compelling”
Rose Paterson, Chairwoman, Aintree Racecource
Stephanie Cross, Daily Mail
“A truly great story”
Peter Sharkey, The Post
“The Czech nation will surely feel that he has done [Lata Brandisova] justice.”
Robin Oakley, Literary Review