Legendary Gamblers: Harry Findlay
Millions of people have tried their luck at gambling, but only a handful have ever reached legendary status. Among the list of world-renowned gamblers is none other than Harry Findlay who has won, and lost, more than most could ever dream of making in their entire lifetime. His career as a professional gambler has seen him make millions on all manner of sports, but it has also gotten him into more trouble than he would have liked.
What Makes Harry Findlay’s Gambling So Legendary?
Since his childhood, Harry Findlay’s love affair with gambling has been a long and complex one. Starting out in greyhound racing, he soon moved on to horses where he found fame and fortune. His horse Denham, ridden by Sam Thomas (pictured), won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2008, beating Kauto Star.
Throughout his career as a professional gambler, there are very few sports that Findlay hasn’t tried his luck at. Findlay's main strategy is to pick a short-priced favorite and then bet big. He has used this strategy to win big at almost every racecourse across the UK, including Royal Ascot.
Findlay’s Unique Affinity for Greyhound Racing
Findlay’s love for gambling started with greyhound racing. At the young age of just 15, his mother brought him along to the local dog track, letting him spend his pocket money to teach him that gambling doesn’t pay. Young Findlay lost his initial £5 on the first three races, but after borrowing an extra £2 from his mum, he had soon made £8 and was hooked for life.
While he may have made a lot of money betting on other sports, greyhounds still clearly hold a special place in his heart. His happiest ever win was when his greyhound Big Fella Thanks won the 1999 Irish National Coursing Derby. More recently, Findlay invested over £2 million of his own money to rebuild Coventry Stadium as the center of greyhound racing.
Wagering £2.5 Million on a Rugby Match
While Findlay has had a lot of success, he’s made his fair share of losing bets too. Perhaps his biggest loss was when he bet an eye-watering £2.5 million on the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Findlay, like most rugby fans at the time, believed nothing could stop the New Zealand All Blacks. In the quarter-final against France, the All Blacks were 13-3 up and looking comfortable. However, France came back to win, meaning Findlay lost a huge sum of money, even though he placed a hedge on France at half time.
Harry Findlay’s Biggest Gambling Controversies
The career of a professional gambler is one that can be full of ups and downs. Findlay is great at picking winners, but he’s frequently caused controversy too, especially in the uptight world of professional racing.
Winning Millions and Spending Every Penny
How much has Findlay won over his career? Easily more than £25 million. Despite this, Findlay is far from rich, and has endured a lot of hardships due to his love for gambling. During the 1998 World Cup, a series of bad losses left him nearly £250,000 in debt and almost ready to sell his mum’s home. However, by the end of the final, he was £2.5 million up.
Like any gambler, Harry could never stay away from the game for long. Even after his huge loss at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, he backed New Zealand again four years later. Despite this, Findlay always managed to take these losses well; rarely letting them affect him.
Serving Time in Prison Aged 20
While he may have lost a lot of money over the years, Findlay’s lowest point was getting arrested and serving time in prison during his younger years. At the age of 20, the gambler was convicted of credit card fraud and sentenced to 12 months in prison. He served nine months inside, getting out and turning over a new leaf. Even though he never stopped gambling, he stayed away from crime.
Disqualification from Racing and Bankruptcy
Despite gaining fame thanks to his horse racing wins, it nearly cost him everything he had. In 2009, he was investigated due to a pattern of betting on and then laying his own horses. After an investigation, he received a six-month ban from racing. While this was later overturned, he chose not to return to horses, instead focusing on dogs.
Unfortunately, his efforts to revive the British greyhound racing scene led to bankruptcy and depression.
Where is Harry Findlay Now?
Today, Findlay is often seen at dog racing tracks across the UK, where he is all too happy to share his love for the sport. He has also written an autobiography detailing his rollercoaster of a life called - Gambling for Life: The Man Who Won Millions and Spent Every Penny.