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Redknapp was manager at Tottenham Hotspur when he met the “promising apprentice” at a London casino. First clue, Harry. How many apprentices have the readies to be playing the casinos? Not many, I reckon. Redknapp explains how he befriended the supposed jockey. He wrote, “He wasn’t dressed too well, looked like he could do with a few quid, but very open and chatty. If you like a bet, he seemed like a good man to know.” And Harry clearly likes a bet.
Could Harry fix a ticket to watch his beloved Spurs? Clue 2, Harry. Jockeys are generally riding when the football is on.
Yet, ‘Appy ‘Arry was ready to oblige in exchange for a few tips, horses that lost far more often than they won. Clue 3, Harry. In every sport I can think of there’s trouble for a participant if they give out information. What would Redknapp have said if Gareth Bale or Scott Parker had blabbed the team selection or a key injured to a team mate a couple of days before a big match?
Nevertheless, Redknapp came up with tickets regularly, and not just ground admission either. “Topliss” found himself in the directors’ box, on one occasion seated next to Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.
Was there no end to Redknapp’s generosity? He went on to pay £150 for a rail ticket to Newbury and £500 for a trip to the Godolphin stables in Dubai.
It took football agent and racehorse owner Willie McKay to rumble what was going on. He spoke to the real Topliss at the racecourse before asking Redknapp if the two were still in touch. The jockey had an idea as to who the impersonator might be, claiming it was someone who had previously worked at Richard Fahey’s Malton stables, at which Topliss served his apprenticeship.
When the story came out, he was quick to contact the BHA to make sure they were fully in the picture. He told the Racing Post, “I rang the BHA and told them I had spoken to Harry Redknapp only once and that was when he rang me up after he found out this gut wasn’t really me. I told them they could look at my phone records or anything else they might want, but they said they weren’t investigating it. The whole ting is quite incredible.”
Redknapp was left to reflect on how easily he had been taken in. “Three years he’d had me. The best seat in the house, good restaurants, lifts here, there and everywhere – and heaven knows what in handouts. He was a conman preying on the racing scene and the little rogue had us all.”