Horse doping book wins accolades
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