Boekverslag : Dick Francis - For Kicks
De taal ervan is Engels en het aantal woorden bedraagt 2725 woorden.

  1. Bibliographical notes
  2. Theme
  3. Summary
  4. Time
  5. Place
  6. Main Characters
  7. Evaluation an appreciation
  8. Vocabulary extension
  9. The author


1. Bibliographical notes
  • Author: Dick Francis
  • Title: For Kicks
  • Publisher: Fawcett Crest Books
  • Edition: First edition
  • Place: New York
  • Date: December 1996
  • Number of Pages: 250 pages

FRANCIS, D., For Kicks, 1st ed., New York, 1996, 250 p.


2. Theme

Daniel Roke looks into an English horse-doping scandal.


3. Summary

A couple of years ago, there was a great deal of trouble with the doping of racehorses in England. National Hunt Racing tested the first four horses in many races, to stop doping-to-win, and every suspiciously beaten favourite for doping-to-lose. But all the results were negative. Especially eleven winners were looking stimulated, but nothing showed up in the tests. Although had those horses a fairly high adrenaline count, but you can’t tell whether that is normal for that particular horse or not. You also have to know that these horses were calm and cool when they went to the starting gate. Horses which have been stimulated with adrenaline are mostly pepped up at that point.

That’s why Mr. October, a member of the body which governs National Hunt Racing, asked Daniel Roke, who runs an Australian stud Farm, to come over to England to find out what’s going on. After a while, Daniel Roke decided to take the job.

To do the investigation, Mr. Roke had to infiltrate in the English horseracing world. For that October had arranged a job as a lad in his own stable, which is governed by Inskip, an honest man. Over there he had to take care for 3 horses, one of them was called Sparking Plug. Every Saturday, Daniel had to ride out with October’s daughters. Next Sunday, Daniel went to the races with Sparking Plug in Bristol. The sleeping quarters over there were, to some of the lads, like the Hilton hotel, because they were so nice. In the canteen the lads had a discussion about doping. They all said they had never given ‘something’ to a horse. During the discussion, Daniel said that he wouldn’t object to point out a horse for some money. Because of that, someone came to him next morning to ask him if he was really interested in pointing out some horses. So a few weeks later a man came to him and said that he could earn hundred and fifty pound if he gave ‘something’ to Sparking Plug, so he couldn’t win the next race at Leicester. Daniel agreed with it.

Every evening after his work, Daniel read several doping-reports to do his investigation. He noticed that seven of the eleven suspicious winners were once be owned by Humber or Adams. They started to interest him. That’s why Daniel quitted his job with Inskip and stared to work in Humber’s stable. It was a real hell for the lads over there. They had to sleep in beds without a mattress and pillow, their kitchen was a stable furnished with a table, a couple of chairs and a washbasin and they had almost no food. However they were better paid than in other stables. Over there, Daniel found out that Paul Adams and Hedley Humber started collaborating in a scheme for ensuring winners about four year ago, when Adams bought a house in Northumberland. Also Jud Wilson and Cass, both lads were involved, but none of them does as much stable work as their jobs would normally entail, although they are well paid. Both own big cars of less than a year old.

Adams and Huber’s scheme is based on the fact that horses learn by associating and connect noises to events. Like dogs who would come to the sound of a bell because they thought it meant feeding time, horses hearing the feed trolley rattling across a stable yard know very well that their food is on the way. If the horse is used to a certain consequence following closely upon a certain noise, he automatically expects the consequence whenever he hears the noise. If something frightened were substituted – if for instance, the rattle of the feed trolley were followed always by a trashing and no food – the horse would soon be fear the noise, because of what followed.

Fear is the stimulant which Adams and Humber have used. The appearance of the ‘doped’ horses after they had won – the staring, rolling eyes and the heavy sweat – was due to their having been in a state of terror.

Fear strongly stimulates the adrenal glands, so that they flood the bloodstream with adrenaline and the effect of adrenaline is to release the extra energy needed to deal with the situation, either by fighting back or by running away. Running, in this case, at top speed. The noise which triggered off their fear is the high note of whistle used for training dogs. Horses can hear it well, thought to human ears it is faint. This fact makes it ideal for the purpose. They frightened the horses using a fire-spitting apparatus.

Adams and Humber chose horses that looked promising throughout their careers but had never won. They bought them cheaply one at a time, instilled into them a noise-fear association and sold them again. Having sold a horse with such a built-in accelerator, Adams and Humber waited for it to run in a race. When the horse then was lying fourth or fifth in the last furlong, Adams and Humer blew the whistle to let him win. Because of the fact that these horses were actually losers, they had very long odds and so Adams and Humber could earn much money.

Because Humber and Adams found out that Daniel knew about their scheme, they wanted to kill him. They had already done this with a journalist who also knew about their plans. Although during the fight between Adams, Humber and Daniel, it was Adams who had been killed by Daniel. That’s why he landed in jail. But with the help of National Hunt Racing he was let off and because he had done his job so well the British government asked him if he was interested in working as a spy for them. He said yes and it changed his life.


4. Time

Unknown, maybe when the book was written in 1965


5. Place

  • Perlooma, Australia: Daniel Roke’s stud farm is fifteen miles away from Perlooma.
  • England: London, the English race tracks, Several English stud farms


6. Main Characters

  • Daniel Roke: He runs an Australian stud farm. Mr. Roke looks very young and you can mistake him for an Italian peasant. His skin is sallow and tans easily, he has black hair and brown eyes. Most often he wears threadbare clothes. He is very avaricious, but on the other hand he is also someone who keeps on with something once he started it.

Mr. Roke has two sisters, Belinda and Helen and a thirteen-year-old brother, Philip. Belinda wants to go to medical school, Helen to art school and Philip wants to become a lawyer, if he is still of the same mind when he grows up.


  • Mr. October: He is about forty-five years old, he is of medium height and solid build, with a large, well-shaped head and smoothly brushed brown hair. Mr. October has a subtle air of authority inconsistent with the opening patter of representatives.

He is a member of the body which governs National Hunt Racing – that is to say, steeplechasing, jumpracing – in England.

Mr. October has also two girls, Elinor and Patricia and a boy. One daughter is at university and the twin boy and girl have recently left school.


  • Elinor: Elinor has smooth silver-blond hair, fair eyelashes, direct grey eyes, a firm, friendly mouth and a composure which gave her an air of graceful reserve.
  • Patricia: She can’t decide what kind of job she would like to do. She also likes to go to never-ending parties and staying out till dawn. Once she tried to seduce Daniel.


  • Paul James Adams: Adams has a psychopathic personality, in that he impulsively gives him pleasure and pursues his own ends without any consideration for other people or much apparent anxiety about the consequences to himself. His intelligence seems to be above average, and it is he who gives the orders.

  • Hedley Humber: Humber, though dominated by Adams, is not as irresponsible. He is cold and controlled at all times. He uses anger as a weapon and everything he does seems to be thought out and calculated. Whereas Adams may be mentally abnormal, Humber seems to be simply wicked.

  • Inskip: Inskip trains October’s horses. He is an honest man, but unfortunately he’s also a bit of a talker. Wally, Paddy and Grits are Inskip’s lads.

  • Soupy Tarleton: He is about the same age and build as Daniel Roke, but much fairer, with a reddish skin. He’s in the doping business. His nickname is T.N.T.

  • Jerry: One of Humber’s lads. He is a friend of Daniel, but he’s not very smart. Daniel often buys him strips.


7. Evaluation and appreciation

It’s one of the best books I have ever read. Maybe it’s also because it’s about racehorses and in my spare time I work with racehorses myself. For Kicks is very thrilling. Normally I read such a book in month, but because I couldn’t wait to know the end I have read it all at once.

Some other comments

  • Francis captures our attention and holds us spellbound…All the breathless pace we have come to expect of this superb writer.

- The New York Times Book Review -

  • Absolutely first class. Highly recommended.

- Current Literature -


8. Vocabulary extension

p. 479 jaundiced: suffering or appearing suffering from

p. 479 inconsistent: not agreeing with something else/one another

p. 479 patter: the sound of something striking a hard surface lightly, quickly or repeatedly

p. 479 peasant: a person who works on the land (of developing countries)

p. 479 sallow: the appearance of the skin

p. 480 a tendon: a thick strong cord that connects a muscle to a bone

p. 482 stringent: severe

p. 482 conspicuously: noticeable, attracting attention

p. 483 indistinguishably: which cannot be seen or known to be different from something

p. 488 a lad: someone who takes care of horses

p. 488 a crook: a long stick with a curved end

p. 490 a lagoon: a lake of seawater

p. 490 to persuade: to cause to feel certain

p. 491 fond: learning in a king, gentle or tender way

p. 491 to stifle: to stop breathing properly

p. 493 to gallivant: to go around amusing oneself

p. 493 to reckon: to consider

p. 493 persuasive: heaving the power to influence others into believing or doing

p. 493 effervesce: to have balls of gas forming inside

p. 494 a rein: a long band by which a horse is controlled and guided


9. The author

Dick Francis was born in Pembrokeshire, South Wales, in October 1920. As a youngster, Dick Francis was a keen horseman and won many 'best boy rider' awards at all the major horse shows between the wars. In 1940 he joined up in the RAF and finished the war as a Lancaster bomber pilot having initially trained on Spitfires. On demobilisation he returned to the saddle, becoming a steeplechase jockey. He was Champion Jockey in the 1953-54 season and is perhaps best known for riding the luckless Devon Loch, owned by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, when he came so heartbreakingly close to winning the 1956 Grand National when Devon Loch slipped up just 40 yards from the winning post when well in front.

In 1957 he gave up riding professionally and joined The Sunday Express as their racing correspondent. He published his racing autobiography, The Sport of Queens, in December 1957, and his first thriller, Dead cert, in 1962. There has been a best-selling novel every year since. Forfeit (1968), Whip Hand (1979) and Come to Grief (1995) each won an Edgar Allen Poe Award for best novel from the Mystery Writers of America, the only author to win more than one of this prestigious award. In addition he has received Silver, Gold and Diamond Dagger awards from the Crime Writers Association and an OBE from the Queen. In 1991 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Tufts University, Massachusetts, USA and in 1996 he was created Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America.

>From being the Royal Jockey he has become the Queen Mother's favourite thriller writer. Each year Dick Francis signs a copy of his new novel, hot off the press, and delivers it to Clarence House. Dick Francis and his wife Mary now live in the Cayman Islands, British West Indies.



Important happenings during his life:


First serious riding accident, broken teeth, palate, jaw and nose. Afterward rides ponies for circus owner.

'35 Drops out of Maidenhead County School. Wins at hunter show substituting for his father, a steeplechase jockey.

Family purchases stables.

Francis volunteers for the Royal Air Force, serving as an airframe fitter and a pilot.

Debuts as an amateur jockey on Russian Hero.

First win, after 39 races. Breaks collarbone. Marries Mary Margaret Brenchly.

Becomes Professional National Hunt Jockey and second jockey for Lord Bicester.

Mary Francis stricken with polio. Francis rides Roimond to second place in the Grand National.

Jockey Lord Mildmay mysteriously disappears, and Francis substitutes for him and begins relationship with trainer Peter Cazalet. This leads to riding for the royal family.

Eleven horses fall at first fence in Grand Nation, Francis' mount, Finnure, among them.

'54 Becomes National Hunt's Champion Jockey by wining 76 of 331 races. Sails to U.S. to ride in international Steeplechase at Belmont.

Clearly leading the Grand National, Francis' mount, Devon Loch, inexplicably falls. A literary agent approaches Francis for his autobiography.

Retires from racing in February and publishes The Sport of Queens. Becomes racing correspondent for the London Sunday Express.

Francis first novel, Dead cert, is published.

For Kicks receives Crime Writer's Association Silver Dagger Award. Francis falls from horse, breaks collarbone for twelfth time, and cracks skull while judging Royal Show.

Forfiet receives Edgar Allen Poe Award.

Francis becomes chairman of the Crime Writer's Association. Retires from Sunday Express.

Dead cert made into a film directed by Tony Richardson.

Success of television's "The Racing Game" inspires second Sid Halley novel. Whip Hand wins both Poe Award and Gold Dagger.

Changes American publisher. Putnam's begins to market his novels as "mainstream" instead of "mystery." Reflex spends three months on the New York Times best-seller list.

Knighted, Order of the British Empire.

Biography of Champion Jockey Lester Piggot Published.



His bibliography

  • Proof (1984)
  • Break In (1985)
  • Lester (biography) (1985)
  • Bolt (1986)
  • Hot Money (Michael Joseph, 1987)
  • The edge (1988)
  • Straight (1989)
  • Longshot (1990)
  • Comeback (1991)
  • Driving force (1992)
  • Decider (1993)
  • Wild Horses (1994)
  • Come to Grief (1995)
  • To the Hilt (Michael Joseph, 1996)

  • 10lb Penalty (Michael Joseph, 11 Sept 1997)

Andere boeken van deze auteur:

Home - Contact - Over - ZoekBoekverslag op uw site - Onze Boekverslagen - Boekverslag toevoegen