Enemy Number One, by Patrick Veitch

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The Independent Culture

Patrick Veitch has a way with figures, as befits a former Cambridge mathematician. He can tell you, for instance, that his profit from eight years of betting on horses is precisely £10,049,983.03.

Those of us who lead more humdrum lives imagine the world of the professional gambler as glamorous and exciting, and Veitch does not disappoint as he zooms around in his helicopter and Ferrari, a beautiful girl on his arm. But his moments of high-octane success are the result of many hours of research and the meticulous organisation of an army of associates tasked with getting money on without the bookies getting wise as to its source.

He tells his tale with a dry wit, and doesn't suffer fools gladly; a number of jockeys will squirm at his opinion of them. There is also a darker subtext – before his extraordinary run started he had to spend a year in hiding from a psychopathic gangster, ending up broke. The experience marked him, and the bookies have paid a high price ever since. But the cost of this book is a small price to pay for an insight into a fascinating life.

Published in hardback by Racing Post, £18.99