Dennis Horn – Racing for an English Rose
At the age of 20, Dennis Horn won his first English Rose – the emblem of a National track champion. Throughout the 1930s he rapidly graduated from the rough and tumble of makeshift grass track racing at country fairs and gala sports days in provincial towns to assail the heights of British track cycling on the great urban cycling bastions of the time – the hard-surfaced stadiums of London’s Herne Hill and Manchester’s Fallowfield – and become the star of British track racing.
Every year from 1931 to 1938 he was awarded the season-long Meredith Trophy to add to those legendary gold and silver cups he’d won in fiercely contested track battles in front of crowds of tens of thousands. It was a cycling scene entirely unique to Britain in the years before World War II.
But this is more than a simple tale of a strapping rural lad who took on and beat the streetwise metropolitan champions of his era. Dennis Horn, son of a Fenland blacksmith, proved himself to be as astute as any of his urban contemporaries at treading the fine line between amateurism and professionalism as defined by the puritanical British cycling establishment of their day.