|After serving six years in the Royal Air Force, including three years as a fighter pilot in World War II, Dick Francis followed in his father's footsteps to become a champion jockey, winning over 350 races. He won numerous awards and titles during his career, including Champion Jockey in 1953 and 1954. In the 1956 Grand National Steeplechase, Francis was only a few lengths from winning the race he had entered for the eighth time, but with no one in his path, his horse collapsed just before the finish line, prompting him to call the event "both the high point and low point of my career as a jockey." Soon afterwards he began working on his autobiography, THE SPORT OF QUEENS, published in 1957, the same year he retired from racing.||Francis soon found a new calling as a writer--first as a racing correspondent for the London Sunday Express and then as a novelist. He published his first novel, DEAD CERT, in 1962, and continued writing mystery novels and short stories based in the world of horse racing. Appreciated by critics and fans alike, his bestselling books won numerous prizes. His protagonists, who range from local jockeys to international spies, often suffer brutal, torturous situations and must battle to free themselves and see justice served. Many of his stories--including those written later in his life with his son Felix after his wife of more than 50 years, Mary, died--reveal the shadier, seedier side of this royal sport. Dick Francis died on Valentines Day in 2010 at the age of 89.