A familiar sight on the Point-to-Point course, amongst the row of bookmakers is Roger King. Celebrating his 86th birthday this week, Roger has been a bookie for 55 years.
Ably assisted by his two sons, Peter and Keith, their job entails travelling far and wide, as well as Point-to-Point courses, they also have pitches at the Goodwood, Ascot, Wincanton, Newton Abbot and Exeter courses.
Roger is currently secretary and treasurer of Devon & Cornwall Bookmakers Association.
When asked how he came into being a bookmaker, Roger replied “I was a professional footballer, having played for Notts County and Exeter City. Then when I retired, I worked in a betting shop for David Pipe, who was Martin’s father and David’s grandfather.”
Roger had a glint in his eye, as he was reminiscing about his past, he carried on saying “An opportunity came up to buy the Bookmaker pitch from Calway Jones, who wanted to emigrate to Canada, and that got me started.”
When asked if he had ever race ridden, or owned a racehorse, Roger replied “No, I once rode a shire horse and fell off!”
Roger concluded that the best thing about his job is “watching people enjoying themselves, good banter, being courteous and they will come back, and praise them when they back a winner.”
He claimed that the biggest bet he had ever taken on a Point-to-Point race was 600/400 to get a thousand pounds. “It didn’t win” Roger added.
Point-to-Point courses are full of characters like Roger, who turn out whatever the weather, be it rain, snow or gale force winds, and all help create the atmosphere of the day.