Which racecourse was the scene of the ‘Gay Future Affair’?
What became known as the ‘Gay Future Affair’ was an ingenious, but ultimately unsuccessful, betting coup that was attempted at Cartmel Racecourse in Cumbria, North West England on Bank Holiday Monday, August 26, 1974. Cartmel was chosen because, at the time, it was not connected to the ‘Blower’ telephone service for bookmakers operated by the Exchange Telegraph Company.
Masterminded by Cork construction magnate Tony Murphy, the attempted coup involved two horses, the ‘real’ Gay Future, who was trained in Tipperary by Edward O’Grady, and another four-year-old chestnut gelding, who was sent to permit-holder Tony Collins in Troon, Scotland, with counterfeit documents identifying him as Gay Future. Collins was instructed to enter Gay Future in the Ulverston Novices’ Hurdle at Cartmel and two days before the race, the bona fide Gay Future was shipped across the Irish Sea and placed in Collins’ charge.
Collins was similarly instructed to enter two other horses, Ankerwyke at Southwell and Opera Cloak at Plumpton, although neither was an intended runner. On the morning of the race, Murphy and his associates placed a series of multiple bets on the three Collins-trained runners which, after the withdrawal of Ankerwyke and Opera Cloak, became single win bets on Gay Future. Gay Future won easily, by 15 lengths, at a generous starting price of 10/1, but bookmakers, for the most part, refused to pay out.