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Looking back to the 1953 scam

London, July 6 (AFP): An infamous betting scam involving the running of the wrong horse in a race at Bath is being commemorated half a century after the sting. In one of the most audacious attempts to hoodwink bookmakers of the last century a gang swapped one horse, Francascal, for a 'ringer', that is another, better, faster runner, Santa Amaro. Santa Amaro duly won and the plotters collected the equivalent today of one million pounds worth of bets.

One of their member, a scrap metal dealer, cut a telephone wire at Bath racecourse in order to prevent offcourse bookmakers from sending money back to the track to reduce the horse's price as his accomplices piled thousands of pounds on it to win at 10-1. Although the coup came off the gang were denied the chance of collecting their illgotten gains as they were quickly arrested and handed jail sentences of up to three years.

Curiously the jockey was one of the few involved who was completely in the dark as to what was going on. His son-in-law, retired bookie Brian Griffiths, has decided to mark the 50th anniversary by sponsoring a race in honour of his father-in-law, who has since died. The 'Billy Gilchrist knew nothing About It Francasal Selling Stakes' will be run at Bath on Monday. Griffiths told The Racing Post newspaper: "When he was alive, we'd sit together in the pub and he'd tell me all sorts of stories about racing and Francasal was the main one. "He maintains he knew absolutely nothing about what was happening that day. "The only thing that was strange was when he sat on the horse and thought it was far too good to be running in a seller."

Griffiths will present a copy of the report in the following day's Daily Mirror to the owner of the winning horse in Monday's race. All of those involved in the sting are dead, the last surviver the man who cut the telephone wire dying last year.


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