To know the result of a horse race even before its commencement is perhaps the dream of every gambler.
Shortly before the First World War, Horatio Bottomley, a politician who was himself a racehorse owner, hit on an audacious scheme to make this dream come true.
He was a swindler. And his ploy was simple-he would not only own every horse participating in the race, but would also make sure that they finished in the exact predetermined order.
In order to achieve this ‘feat’, he chose Belgium to avoid prosecution as the racing rules were very strict in Britain. Bottomley engaged six English jockeys to ride his team of horses at Blankenberge, a seaside town where the racecourse veered alongside the shore and the horses were sometimes obscured by the sand dunes.
The jockeys were strictly instructed about the plan-and Bottomley’s associates in England laid heavy bets on the exact finishing order.
The way everything was going on seemed to indicate that Bottomley would end up winning a fortune. But disaster struck midway through the race.
Thick sea mist swept over the course and the jockeys got hopelessly out of touch with each other.
They crossed the finishing line in a jumble, much to Bottomley’s dismay as he ended up losing a fortune.
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