Win a Family Weekend Break with Lovereading and VisitWiltshire - click here for details...

Search our site
The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn Read the opening extract of the brand new A. J. Finn book before its publication on 22/01/2018

The Sure Thing The Greatest Coup in Horse Racing History by Nick Townsend

The Sure Thing The Greatest Coup in Horse Racing History

Biography / Autobiography   Sport from the Armchair   All Shortlists and Winners   

Lovereading view...

Shortlisted for the Racing Book of the Year Award at the British Sports Book Awards 2015.

The story of Barney Curley, the man who made betting pay...for him. Not a Bookmakers favourite he has consistently won more than he lost in over 40 years of following the turf. Above all, the book reveals for the first time how Curley pulled off the biggest gamble of the 20th Century. ~ Sue Baker

Like for Like Reading

Doped: The Real Life Story of the 1960's Racehorse doping Gang, Jamie Reid

Enemy Number One: The Secrets of the UK's Most Feared Professional Punter, Patrick Veitch

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. Audacious and successful, renowned gambler Barney Curley has proved repeatedly that it is possible to beat the odds in spectacular fashion. In 1975, he pulled off a historic gamble on a horse called Yellow Sam, leaving Irish bookmakers £300,000 out of pocket (roughly £2.5 million today). In 2010, he set off around Britain with a team of associates, placing thousands of pounds on multiple bets. Here, Nick Townsend reveals the planning behind the biggest organised gamble that horse racing has ever seen.
~ The Good Book Guide


The Sure Thing The Greatest Coup in Horse Racing History by Nick Townsend

Shortlisted for the Racing Book of the Year Award at the British Sports Book Awards 2015.

Yet, for over four decades Barney Curley has proved himself a rare exception. The country's most renowned and fearless gambler, a man who will back his judgement to win GBP100,000 and more on a single day, has consistently emerged triumphant from bloody skirmishes with the old enemy. In the summer of 1975 Curley masterminded one of the most spectacular gambles of all time, with a racehorse named Yellow Sam, costing Irish bookmakers around GBP300,000; the equivalent of some GBP2m today. No-one believed anything similar could be staged again this century. Bookmakers now have communications and technology in place to thwart any renewed attempts. But challenges inspire Curley and he was determined to beat the system - again. Thirty-five years later from his first coup, Curley set about staging an ambitious sequel to his Yellow Sam scheme. Curley has never divulged the full details of what happened. Now, for the first time, The Sure Thing reveals the complete story of the months of planning and preparation, with all the trials and tribulations, that went into the biggest organised gamble in racing history.

Browse inside this book


'Nick Townsend tells the story with panache, helped by a close acquaintance with the Irish mastermind of the scheme, Barney Curley, a name which bookmakers have had reason to curse on several occasions... It gets properly into its stride when it focuses on the coup, which in its innovative daring calls to mind The Italian Job.' Independent on Sunday

'The full story of how the legendary gambler does it is unveiled. It helps if you know your way around racing, but if you don't this book will make you want to get clued-up fast.' Daily Sport

This is an enthralling read, extremely entertaining, and a revealing insight into one of horse racing's most colourful, and controversial, characters' The Press

About the Author

Nick Townsend was, for many years, a sports feature writer on the Daily Mail before joining the Independent on Sunday, initially as football correspondent and later chief sports writer. He is currently a freelance writer, predominantly for the Sunday Times. He collaborated with Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Ben Ainslie on their autobiographies. He is a long-time confidant of Barney Curley and assisted him with his acclaimed life story Giving A Little Back. He lives with his wife Louise in Oxfordshire.

Barney Curley is a Northern Irish professional gambler and entrepreneur and was behind the infamous Yellow Sam betting coup (regarded as one of the greatest betting scams of all time).

More books by this author
Author 'Like for Like' recommendations

Loading similar books...
Loading other formats...

Book Info

Publication date

23rd April 2015


Nick Townsend

More books by Nick Townsend
Author 'Like for Like'


Arrow Books Ltd an imprint of Cornerstone


432 pages


Biography / Autobiography
Sport from the Armchair
All Shortlists and Winners

Biography: general
Gambling: theories & methods
Horse racing



You can trust Lovereading to show unbiased reviews by actual, ordinary readers that help likeminded booklovers choose their next great read.

Linda Hill

I love reading because my cares & woes vanish for an hour or two whilst I read of the joys, adventures, lives of the characters in the book.

Jennifer Moville

It is a website dedicated to those who adore reading It really is a one stop shop for book lovers. Love it!

Edel Waugh

They are bright, breezy and eager to offer a great book, then genuinely listen/respect the review one writes.

Maggie Crane

Lovereading is like booking a holiday, you don't know what it will be like and it is a whole new experience.

Sue Burton

Lovereading - a community of people passionate about reading and sharing their views. An incomparable website for book lovers.

Helen Clark

I love 'try before you buy' extracts. I love the wide range of authors & genres. I love the author info. I love books!

Judi Davies

Because of Lovereading I have broadened my reading horizons with some really great books that I probably would never have chosen myself.

Susan Walsh