Race the Wind by Lauren St John, published by Orion Children's Books on 1st April 2013
When Casey Blue's Badminton victory earns her and Storm an invitation to the prestigious Kentucky Three Day Event, it is a dream come true. But that dream is about to turn into a nightmare. After her father is arrested for a crime Casey is convinced he didn't commit, she finds herself the victim of a vicious blackmailer. To make matters worse, Storm is behaving like the wild horse he once was. Faced with losing everything she loves, she needs the help of her farrier boyfriend, Peter, to win in Kentucky. But is he for her or against her?
'Race the Wind' is the excellent follow-up to Lauren St John's 'One Dollar Horse', following the story of Casey Blue and the horse she rescued from the knackers yard, Storm Warning. After her success at the Badminton Horse Trials, Casey has an automatic shot at the Kentucky Three Day Event and the seemingly unobtainable Grand Slam. Things are finally looking up for her, when her father is suddenly arrested on suspicion of murder and Casey becomes entangled in trying to clear his name.
Although 'Race the Wind' is quite a different book to the first in the series, the focus is still on the wonderful connection between Casey and her horse. Their relationship is at the heart of the story and I enjoyed seeing the partnership they share flourish even further. There are a couple of short passages throughout the book where events are narrated through the eyes of Storm Warning and these served to enhance the bond that girl and horse have. They may have their ups and downs but they can always count on each other.
I loved seeing Casey's grit and determination to become as good as she can be, in her quest to win the elusive Grand Slam. She starts working out with a trainer to improve her overall fitness level and some of what she does sounds pretty painful! This shows what all committed sports people put themselves through to try and achieve their goals.
I was slightly disappointed not to see as much of Peter, who Casey became romantically involved with at the end of the first book. He's still involved in the story but their relationship becomes quite tenuous and they certainly have some issues to overcome.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read and will appeal hugely to horse-lovers. When I was young, I used to love reading the Jill's Pony books by Ruby Ferguson, as well as the Saddle Club series by Bonnie Bryant. A whole new generation of horse-mad teens would do as well picking up this series by Lauren St John, to experience the thrills of Casey Blue and her horse Storm Warning.
The third and final part of the trilogy 'Fire Storm' will be published by Orion in 2014.