BARNEY Curley, the former coach and mastermind behind some of the greatest betting coups of all time, has died aged 81.

The Northern Irishman was a legendary punter and gained notoriety among bookmakers for several successful bets during a controversial career.


Curley was famous for winning several betting coupsCredit: Getty Images – Getty

His most famous was the massive coup d’état involving his horse Sam yellow in 1975 in Bellewstown, Ireland.

Curley spent weeks plotting the bet, running Yellow Sam in several inappropriate races ahead of time to ensure he had a big chance on the same day.

He was 20-1 on track and ten minutes before the start, a team Curley had assembled were simultaneously placing bets on Yellow Sam in betting shops across the country.

Meanwhile, his friend Benny O’Hanlon used the only phone booth on the course and pretended to call a dying aunt at a non-existent hospital.


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The betting shops were unable to contact their colleagues who stood on track to warn them to relinquish their responsibilities, while Curley also placed thousands of people on the horse in the ring of the track.

The horse won easily and he raised around £ 300.00, or around £ 1.4million in today’s money.

And he’s also believed to have been the mastermind behind a four-horse coup in January 2014, which reportedly cost bookies north of £ 2million when the four returned victorious.

Magic combination, who won the 2000 Imperial Cup, was among the biggest winners he sent from his Newmarket team before retiring in 2012.

He’s also nurtured several future saddle stars, with Frankie Dettori, Jamie Spencer and Tom Queally rising through the ranks under Curley’s leadership.

He also became an internet sensation when the clip of him berating John McCririck and Luke Harvey in Folkestone was released on social media.

While there has never been a dull moment in his working and rowing life, he experienced a tragedy when his son Charlie died in a car crash at the age of 18 in 1995.

After losing her son, started her own charity, Direct Aid for Africa, and often spends months at a time trying to help poor children in Zambia.

Watch the race that earned the jockey a ‘ridiculous’ seven-day ban as punters turn to stewards for ‘shocking’ punishment

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