Former VRC Chair Williams Publish Novel

Robin Traywick Williams, former Chairman of the Virginia Racing Commission has published an award-winning novel set at Virginia’s own Colonial Downs.

Williams is a journalist, speaker, storyteller and horsewoman. She holds an MA in creative writing from Hollins University, spent five years as a feature writer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, prior to serving six terms as chairman of the Virginia Racing Commission. Williams has also served as president of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.

She has previously authored “Chivalry – Thy Name is Bubba” in September of 2011 and “Bush Hogs and Other Swine” in June of 2011.  Williams is the winner of the 6th Best Unpublished Novel contest sponsored by the James River Writers & Richmond Magazine.  

According to Wilford Kale writing in the Virginia Gazette, William’s new book, “The Key to the Quarter Pole”, centers on an independent woman with a passion for horse racing.   Earlier this summer a short thoroughbred racing schedule resumed at Colonial Downs in New Kent County after a controversial and difficult five-year hiatus.

Louisa Ferncliff, as described by Williams in “The Key to the Quarter Pole,” has had her share of ups and downs in a career as a “horse fixer,” nursing ill or troubled horses back to racing form.

Author Williams’ background enables her to write knowingly and without pretension — in crisp, clear tones — about horses and the lives of those living around them, especially on the back-stretch of the race track. Raised on a farmette on the edge of Lynchburg, Williams began riding her father’s horses, not ponies, about age five.   

Another published description of Ferncliff says it best: She fixes horses with scrambled eggs between their ears and befriends and advises the little people on the race track’s backstretch.

Ferncliff had announced her retirement the previous year, but a horse trainer colleague and friend called her to return to work with a special horse at Colonial Downs. It got down to one thought— would she go back. Her bet on a race, if the horse won, her destination would be Colonial Downs. “Hell, if the horse lost, she’d go to Colonial anyway.”

In addition to Ferncliff, the other featured character in Williams’ book is a four-hoofed bay gelding, a beaten up and worn-down racehorse named Alice’s Restaurant, with a fragile knee, but a big heart. His future and that of the horse fixer are entwined in a saga with racetrack turns and stretch drive excitement.

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