A stylish trot through the committal proceedings, trials and appeals.

In the 1960s, British horseracing was in the grip of a gang of dopers led by gambler William Roper, with the help of his Swiss girlfriend. Roper visited stables masquerading as a future owner. It was a time when, if a horse was found to have been doped, the trainer (culpable or not) was warned off.

The hidebound authorities seemed incapable of protecting Derby favourites who were nobbled, not once but twice, and horses were so badly damaged they never ran again.

One member of the gang died in Lewes prison, either committing suicide or being helped over the rails of the top floor landing. This presented real evidential difficulty for Owen Stable — known at the bar as the ‘Racing Correspondent of the Church Times’ — leading the prosecution. Reid takes us with great style at a trot through the committal proceedings, trials (with Melford Stevenson at his most grim and prim) and appeals.

Author: Jamie Reid

£20, Racing Post

James Morton is a writer and former criminal defence solicitor