By Matt Rennie
£3m in 3 weeks – The Squirrel Syndicate: A Gambler’s Tale by Richard Brocklebank and Charles Yates
£19.99, posted by The Conrad Press Ltd
What do Wayne and Coleen Rooney have in common, an engagement ring and a forest of red squirrels outside Liverpool? The answer is the birth of a betting syndicate that became one of the most recognized Scoop6 winners.
Gambler Richard Brocklebank and tabloid journalist Charles Yates, two Scoop6 greats, met in 2003, but met again in remarkable circumstances the following year after a young Coleen McLoughlin, engaged to marry soccer superstar, angrily tossing her engagement ring into dense undergrowth in a forest near the couple’s home.
Brocklebank thought he had found the ring, and although it turned out not to be the right one, he arranged a meeting with a group of Sun reporters, one of whom was Yates, tasked with searching for the missing item. With a pint and a basket of chicken, Brocklebank decided to use the publicity to hunt him down to find the other six Scoop6 winning ticket holders chasing a £375,000 bonus at Glorious Goodwood. Yates suggested that he should show up on the runway in a squirrel suit, which Brocklebank did.
Thus the Squirrel Syndicate was formed and with it a new way to aim for the Scoop6 bonus. Every time Brocklebank, Yates or a handful of other regular Scoop6 players had a winning ticket, they set out to lure the other winners to increase all their chances of getting the bonus and the approach has paid off handsomely.
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Malt Or Mash gets the November 2007 Handicap with Ryan Moore
The book provides a fascinating insight into how the Squirrel Syndicate plundered one of the most famous bets in sports on regular occasions. Brocklebank and Yates don’t mince words, throwing the reader straight into that magical autumn of 2007 that culminated in Malt Or Mash winning the November Handicap for £3 million won. Even better was to come two years later, with a record £3.1m Scoop6 bonus landing at the one-day Midlands Grand National in 2009 – the trusty squirrel suit in tow, of course.
But it’s not just a bragging fest about your winnings; what really stands out is the actual human element to go through some of the people Brocklebank and Yates join forces with.
From Bob Blackhurst’s life-changing victory in Uttoxeter with the gang just three weeks after open heart surgery to a single mother who used nice names to win a bet that allowed her to buy a new house for herself and her children, wonderful stories, and a tragic one – come thick and fast.
Those stories are the crux of the book. Yes, most of the syndicate are adept at winning and rub shoulders with A-list celebrities and professional gamblers, but the casual gamblers at the heart of the sport are just as vital to their success. Anyone can win, maybe even the union’s beloved squirrel at the Mascot Grand National, though you’ll have to read the book to find out if that particular bet paid off.
It’s sure to be a hit with all racing fans and if you like to gamble, who knows, it might even be your guide to a fortune.
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FIRST PUBLICATION 6:00 pm, SEPTEMBER 3, 2022