Sunday, 18 October 2020

Professional Gamblers: Freud on Course

Just about everyone who lived in the Fens knew Sir Clement Freud

He was very much liked. 

MP for the Isle of Ely, becoming and standing a Liberal Member of Parliament from 1973 - 1987. Upon his departure, he was given his knighthood. 

The grandson of the eminent Sigmund Freud, Clement often popped into the local bookmakers shops at March, a small town in Cambridgeshire, just part of doing the rounds of his constituency. 

I remember my Dad saying he has seen him on a number of occasions and if 'Clement fancied a horse to go well' he'd tell the regulars in the bookies. For the Fenlanders, this was as good a tip as we'd get from a man who knew his horses and had better connections than most. 

They often won. 

He was a very talented, educated and witty man. 

By all accounts he started gambling as a child, playing roulette at his boarding school with his stipend of sixpence.

An author of many book, Freud on Course, was published by the Racing Post in 2009. 

It detailed a number of articles from his column in the Racing Post. 

This story dates back to 1949. 

Freud was 25 managing a North Devon seaside hotel, and spent most of his days off at a bookmakers in Barnstable, enjoying ample dishes of seafood and rum and lime and ice and soda. 

The only problem was that he 'stuck a bet'. 

This decision made him appreciate a bookmaker's life isn't always an easy one. 

It was made in reference to a backstreet bookmaker named Mr Rogers who used to take Clement's bets as an underage gambler.  

One of the customers at the hotel, someone with a touch class and refinement, and probably a little bit of inside information, asked Clement if he could place a bet with his bookmaker. 

Benny Lynch, in the 1949 Ascot Gold Cup, pacemaker for 'one of the greatest stayers in history'. 

Surely one of two pacemakers for Alycidon had no chance of winning at odds of 100/1. 

Clement decided he would pocket the £100 bet and shoulder the £10,000 liability if the nag should win.

In 1949, £100 was the equivalent of eight weeks' pay. 

He told himself it was reward for being knowledgeable about racing. 

However, when he listened to the race commentary on BBC Radio, news that Benny Lynch was ten-lengths clear and 'doesn't look like getting caught' put a slightly different perspective on things. 

£10,000 was the equivalent to 15 years' salary. 

In fact, you could buy a 200-acre farm in Suffolk for this princely sum. 

By the time Alycidon had got to the front, Freud had lost his bottle and said: ''I never spent 'winnings' with less enjoyment. 

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