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Written by Brianne Martin
Alec Ramsay is the main character in the novel. He is a red-haired, freckled boy whose passion in life is riding horses, and has just spent two months in India with his Uncle Ralph enjoying adventures in the jungle. He is an extremely resourceful and plucky child with incredible survival skills and an ability to not panic. Throughout his ordeal on the island he showed himself to be a real problem solver and also never gave up.
The bond between Alec and the Black is forged during those difficult days alone on the island. Alec has no fear of the stallion which in turn helps the horse to trust him. Alec is a hard worker and extremely focused, preferring to work towards his goal of riding the Black in a race rather than playing outside with his friends. Because he has been through a harrowing and ultimately life-threatening experience, he has an unusual calmness about him that enables him to stay on the Black as he races around the race course even to the point of near unconsciousness. He seems to have no fear because he has faced tremendous fear before but come out of it the other side. He is a driven boy who is determined and will not take no for an answer, but he is also mannerly and respectful. He is an incredibly likeable hero.
Henry and his wife live just down the street from the Ramsays and he generously allows Alec to stable the Black in his barn. Henry used to be a champion jockey, riding a horse called Chang to victory in the Kentucky Derby. He misses his days on the track and has kept not only his jockey colors but the victor's wreath he was given after the race as well. Despite seeming to have left those days behind he is thrilled to be connected to horse racing again and seems to be vicariously living his dream again through Alec. Henry knows horses and can pick a winner. He is an extremely generous man both with his time and his enthusiasm. He is the driving force behind their dream of racing the Black against the two fastest horses in the country.
Long-suffering Mrs Dailey truly believed her husband's obsession with horses and racing was behind him but despite a little frustration she is actually the person who precipitates this entire odyssey by suggesting that the Black stays in the barn in return for Alec's fixing the barn up.
Alec and his father get along very well and he is very encouraging of his son although understandably concerned about his safety when the idea of him racing in Chicago is first put to him. Wanting Alec to have the opportunity to achieve his dreams, and subsequently getting caught up in the national excitement about the race, Alec's father becomes part of the adventure and even surprises his son by flying to Chicago so that he can watch the race.
Alec's mother Belle is a little over-protective of her son and also anxious that the horse riding escapade does not get out of hand or affect his studies. She is incredibly surprised to see her son racing as she is only attending the race because she is visiting her sister in Chicago, and her sister bought tickets. Belle is incredibly proud of her son and even warms to the Black a little, although she remains scared of his wild power.
Jim Neville is a nationally syndicated sports writer with a huge following and plenty of marketing savvy. It is Jim who succeeds in getting the Black in the race against Sun Raider and Cyclone by publicly pressuring for it to happen. His basic love of all sports and his desire to truly see the fastest horse win drive him to make the race a reality.
How is a young newspaper reporter who writes an article about Alec and the Black and their incredible story of survival. He is the catalyst for the horse race as he brings in his fellow writer Jim Neville to make the race happen. Joe is genuinely interested in both Alec and the horse and is interested in people beyond the story that he writes about them.
The Black is a wild, untamed horse who runs like the wind and is an incredibly beautiful creature to watch. He is huge and powerful and also very skittish, calm only around those he knows. He loves Alec and saves his life twice, firstly from drowning and secondly from a poisonous snake. He is peculiarly devoted to Napoleon, the older horse with whom he shares the barn.
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