Horse dop­ing book wins ac­co­lades

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - BOOKS - MICHAEL RODDY

LON­DON: A 1960s Bri­tish horse­dop­ing scan­dal that reached into the royal sta­bles and drew in the crim­i­nal un­der­world has won a top sports-writ­ing prize and made au­thor Jamie Reid a happy man.

Reid’s Doped: The Real Life Story of the 1960s Race­horse Dop­ing Gang was the win­ner on Wed­nes­day night of the £25 000 (R416 000) Wil­liam Hlll Sports Book of the Year Award.

A thrilled Reid said sales were up and there was in­ter­est in TV rights.

The book tells the tale of crooked bookie Bill Roper (“Roper the Doper”), his glam­orous Swiss mis­tress Miche­line Lu­geon and their scheme to fix horse races in the early 1960s.

Work­ing from their Not­ting Hill head­quar­ters in Lon­don, Roper and his gang made mil­lions. No horse in the coun­try was safe from be­ing “nob­bled” (doped), and it was only when they breached the sta­ble of the Queen Mother’s trainer that Scot­land Yard were called in. Roper and Lu­geon both served time in jail.

Reid, who writes a col­umn for the Fi­nan­cial Times, said he had learnt when he was a boy about horserac­ing from his grand­mother.

He said he re­called there was “some­thing very sus­pi­cious” about the 1961 Ep­som Derby in which highly favoured three-year-old Pin­tur­is­chio did not run, leav­ing the pro­ceeds in the hands of the book­ies and cre­at­ing a great op­por­tu­nity for Roper and his gang.

“There were ru­mours and talk and even when (Roper’s) trial hap­pened in 1963 it never re­ally came out ex­actly what had gone on and who was be­hind it,” Reid said.

“Over the years I’ve been able to meet peo­ple who were able to fill in pieces of the jig­saw for me, fig­ures in the book­mak­ing world and in­deed in the last few years, fig­ures in the un­der­world.” – Reuters

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