Joe Thompson Leviathan Bookmaker, Daily Racing Form, 1913-12-16


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JOE THOMPSON, LEVIATHAN BOOKMAKER. There passed away a -few years ago, at lunchal, Madeira, a notable figure in the turf world, a man who. in his own particular- branch of business, stood head and shoulders alwve his later-day compeers. Reference is made to Joe Thompson, who had earned a world-wide reputation as a fearless layer, his special- being the "playful double." Born in ,Loud,on in 1S3S, Mr. Thompson would have celebrated" his seventy-first birthday had he lived a few days longer. After many vicissitudes he settled down in Melbourne, and with ills brothers Jack and Barney, his business as a bookmaker developed wonderfully. He became an owner of race horses, and won a number of important handicaps, his most useful servant being a horse named Don Juan. Returning to England he burst upon the turf world by laying huge sums against double and treble events. Fortune smiled on him, and he amassed vast wealth despite the fact that he paid enormous amounts over lucky speculations and well-planned coups by clever turfmen. Straight in all his dealings, he had .the complete confidence of all who had business with him and his demise left a void that was hard to fill. When Mr. Thompson arrived in Australia he "fell on his feet" straight away. At quite an early age he. was a master iu the manipulation of figures, and this gift was really his making. He quickly took his place at the head of the ring in Australia, and it says much for his geniality that he was as popular- with his rivals as he was with his clients. His one ambition was to complete his jubilee as a layer, and then, so he told an interviewer some time ago. "I shall be happy to retire, leave the slressand turmoil of a turf life to younger men, and play with my grandchildren." Mr. Thompson was singularly domesticated and affectionate, and. to .see him In his family circle he was the truest type of an English country gentleman. Returning to England In 1S89, chiefly for the sake of his childrens education, Mr. Thompson quickly took his place at the head of his profession. His unfailing courtesy, added to his readiness to accommodate the "plungers" of the day, secured him most of the big business. On each occasion that Rusiicus won the Leicester Royal Handicap. Mr. Thompson made his book for that horse, and his winnings must have been great. The reverse side of the medal. However, was shown In 1S91, when the two great autumn handicaps, the Cesarewitch and the Cambridgeshire, were won by Ragimundo and Comedy respectively. The heavy bettors were well on both these animals, and two of the single-handed wagers laid by Mr. Thompson were to lose 25,000 against Ragimundo and. 00,000 against Comedy, the last-named sum, it is stated, being paid to Mr. Fulton, owner of the mare. The year was a bad one altogether for the books, but "Joe" had no complaints. Curiously enough, Mr. Thompson was not in favor of the registration of bookmakers. His argument was that the registration of layers resulted iu a lot of undesirables beiiig placed in advantageous positions. "Honor and merit," said Mr. Thompson, "are better thin registration." With a head wind at Newmarket, Mr. Thompson would, be often said, back Tod Sloan against any jockey in the world. The invasion of American jockeys had. In his opinion, done infinite good to the turf in England, and, in addition, the introduction of the five-pound allowance for apprentices had been beneficial. He considered Isinglass the best horse he ever saw. Bluff and good-natured to a decree, Mr. Thompson was capital company, and when in reminiscent mood he was fond of telling of his early experiences in the antipodes, when he was often compelled to resort to extraordinary means in order to get safely home with the "bank" after attending a race meeting, the bushrangers, who infested the country at the time, being, indeed, a body to be feared. Possibly the most sensational and adverse wager he ever laid In Australia was when Chester won the Victorian Derby and the Melbourne Cup. He laid the owner 10,000 to 400 the double. He also laid a friend of the owner 10.000 to 500 to win the Melbourne Cnp. Chester landed them both. When Mr. Thompson paid over the 00,000, the receiver or the money was so excited that lie said tremulously to Jem Mace,, who was then in Australia making a hook: Jem, accompany me to the bank and youre on a suit of clothes." Mr. Thompson paid 60,000 away that morning before receiving a pennr. On the Monday following the Cambridgeshire of 1S91 he. appeared at- his. London, club with 50,000 In bank notes. Handing them over to his son, he cooly remarked: "Now, fire away and pav." Mr. Thompson was largely instrumental in bringing the stewards stand to the notice of the racing authorities In this country, and he was much gratified when the idea was carried out at Newbury. In his earlier days he was a good athlete, and his knowledge of most sports was extensive.

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