Two years ago crime author Jimmy Lee Shreeve received £4,000 as part of a legacy. As it was money he wouldn’t ordinarily have had, he decided to use it for fun betting on horse races, something he had long been interested in. He was curious to see whether it was possible to make more profit from the money than if he had put it into a savings account.
But during his two years of betting at racetracks and online, in Britain and the US, Jimmy came across the seamier side of horseracing: the race fixers.
“When you go to racetracks and get talking to people, you quickly realise that the ‘sport of kings’ has its crooked side,” Jimmy says. “Here I was risking money betting on horses, which could, for all I know, have been doped. The more I looked, the more curious I became about it. I began to wonder where and when race fixing began, and to what extremes these fixers go to.”
In The Race Fixers, Jimmy turns literary gumshoe and investigates how jockeys are sometimes bribed to throw races – by purposely falling off their mounts – with the promise of money, cocaine and prostitutes. He also looks at how unscrupulous trainers drug horses to either speed them up, or slow them down
He digs deep into the various fixing scandals that have dogged racing around the world over the last decade – some alleged, some proven – as well as looking at the history of race track corruption.
Jimmy investigates six-time champion jockey, Kieron Fallon, who has been dogged for over a decade by fixing allegations. In 2004, he became the centre of a Jockey Club inquiry into fixing. Although he was cleared in the resulting trial in 2007 (the case fell apart), there are those who insist he got off on a technicality.
He then looks into the story of the US computer expert who, in 2002, engineered a betting plot aimed at pulling a £3 million pay-off in the Breeders’ Cup. This involved hacking into the systems of the company that processes most of America’s computerised horse race betting. But because several outsiders were among the winners, and the pay-off was substantial, suspicions were raised and the plot was foiled.
In The Race Fixers, Jimmy also delves into the history of race fixing – included are stories of the “Yankee Alchemists” of the 19th century who gave cocaine to poor quality horses to speed them up; plus the unfortunate Newmarket stable lad who was hanged in 1811 for giving arsenic to a racehorse to slow it down (he gave it too much, killing it).
Jimmy’s investigations led him into a world of race-fixing, internet betting syndicates, drugs, money-laundering, dodgy bookies, mobsters, prostitution and TV stars. At the same time, he met trainers who truly care for the horses in their charge – and utterly despise the callous attitude that goes hand-in-hand with doping horses.
But with the huge money involved in betting on horses – £5 billion is wagered each year on horse races in Britain alone – it is unlikely race fixing will ever stop. But will the fixers be able to keep one-step ahead of the law? Or will new technology and the increasingly sophisticated testing techniques put an end to their illicit enterprises?
Jimmy Lee Shreeve is a bestselling cult author and journalist. His books include "How To Be Famous" (Orion), the cult classic "Doktor Snake’s Voodoo Spellbook" (St Martin’s Press), "Cannibals" (John Blake), "Blood Rites" (Random House), and "Human Sacrifice" (Barricade).Jimmy’s byline and work has appeared in over 1000 newspapers, magazines and online media all over the world, including The Independent, Financial Times, Sunday Express, The Guardian, Sunday Telegraph, Daily Express, Mail On Sunday, Best Magazine, Chat, How To Spend It, Maxim, Front, and The Sun.He has made ...
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