Harry Findlay: A High-Stakes Journey

Harry Findlay: A High-Stakes Journey
In 2017, Sport Media published Neil Harman's book, "Harry Findlay: Gambling For Life," delving into the life of a polarizing figure who evokes either love or disdain, much like the divisive spread Marmite. As I progressed through the pages chronicling 'The Man Who Won Millions And Spent Every Penny,' my initial reservations softened, and I found myself captivated by the audacity and recklessness that defined Findlay's gambling odyssey.

While there are numerous books by professional gamblers chronicling their exploits in poker, few in the United Kingdom can match Findlay's larger-than-life adventures. His fearlessness, bordering on insanity in the eyes of some, led to unimaginable stress, such as the day he lost £100,000 betting on five odds-on shots at Hexham—all ending in defeat. Another memorable incident involved selling his house to Tony Bloom for £100,000, entangling himself in a convoluted cricket bet that left him hoping for nothing more than a breakeven outcome. The book unfolds like a roller coaster ride with stories so outlandish that Findlay must have felt trapped on a journey he couldn't escape.

Yet, amidst the chaos, there were moments of triumph. One such instance was the joint purchase, with Paul Barber, of the racehorse Denman for his mother—an investment that turned out to be one of the best of his life. From early victories at Wincanton, where Denman defeated Victor Darnall's Karanja by an impressive 16 lengths, it was clear that the horse was destined for greatness.

Harry's conviction that Denman would clinch the Cheltenham Gold Cup manifested in persistent bets whenever the opportunity arose. On February 10, 2006, at Bangor-on-Dee, Denman faced little opposition after the withdrawal of Black Jack Ketchum due to an overnight frost. Priced at 1/12f, Findlay wagered a staggering £360,000 to win £33,000, declaring it the "easiest money" he ever earned.

The moniker "The Tank" was bestowed upon Denman during his early days, particularly after a race at Exeter where he demonstrated remarkable resilience. Despite a stumble that saw him plough through four feet of birch, Denman not only landed on his feet but also maintained pace with his opponent. Findlay, lowering his binoculars, exclaimed, 'F*** me, he's a tank.'

This proclamation proved prophetic as Denman went on to fulfill Findlay's ambitions by winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2008, cementing his status as a true racing legend.

Photo: J.Coote (2023) 

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