Steve Ahern was one of Britain's greatest professional punters. He made a fortune in the 1940s and '50s and lived a life of luxury in Majorca. This is the final part of our series of extracts from his out-of-print book Riches From Races.

Last month, Ahern told how he planned a major betting coup on a horse called Three Cheers to win the big Cesarewitch Handicap. The story continues ...

After Three Cheers won at Birmingham for me, with a 500 pounds bet at 5/2, it was now safe for me to put all my friends on to him. I told them it was an absolute, stone-cold certainty, no danger at all, for the Cesarewitch.

A fortnight later, with the public becoming interested in him, Three Cheers was entered in a race at Kempton Park. He quickly became a hot favourite at 6/4 but, unlike me, the public failed to realise that he was too big to negotiate the curving track and that the jockey riding him was not the right one for such a big, strong horse.

I was content to wait for the Cesarewitch and had not a penny on him at Kempton Park. I was right. He was beaten a short head.

Not long before the Cesarewitch I had the temerity to tell the owner forcibly that only Doug Smith or Manny Mercer could win on him on the big day, because he took so much riding. Fortunately for me, and for my friends, my advice was taken and Mercer was engaged.

On the day, the price was down to 6 / I. A bookie friend and my pal the doctor went with me to the course. They had both gone in quite deeply and asked me what I thought. I told them to start singing Three Cheers for the red, white and blue.

Newmarket was packed on that lovely September day. We managed to get a good position in the grandstand and I didn't even go to see Three Cheers in the paddock.

You cannot see the start of the Cesarewitch from the grandstand but the excitement in the betting ring and the grandstand was terrific. As the field turned into the straight my 12 x 50 Ross binoculars were shaking so much I could not be at all sure of what I saw ... the green and orange colours of Three Cheers out in front.

Then halfway up the straight I could see for sure that I had been right. My confidence had not been misplaced for I knew that he had better staying power than any horse in the race. Two lengths separated him from the next horse as they came out of the dip to breast the final 200m. For the first time 1 began counting my 11,000 pounds.

To my surprise, as they approached the post, a horse called Vidi Vici challenged Three Cheers and actually got to his quarters. But Manny Mercer had the best seat on a horse 1 had ever seen and rode brilliantly as they came up the slope.
Despite this, Bill Rickaby on Vidi Vici was inspired that day. First he got to Three Cheers girth, then to his neck. Then they seemed to go past the post dead level and my heart dropped.

I felt sure Three Cheers had responded to Mercer's riding at the last second but no-one could say for sure which horse had won.

Truthfully, I couldn't spit sixpence. As we waited, my bookie friend said, "I think we've won, Steve" and I answered quickly, "Bet I haven't" and he countered with a 25 pounds bet that said we had won.

I was about to take the bet when a roar went up. "Number 26" was the winner. Three Cheers had won me 11,000 pounds. It was a great moment.

I built myself a beautiful bungalow in a superb garden setting at Middleton-On-Sea and called it Three Cheers.

I could have retired from racing at the end of that season but my luck was still holding, so I went on to earn a fortune and turn it to gold in other ways.

The years rolled by. I had been steadily holding my own for years in the toughest profession of them all, building up enormous sums of money against rainy days that never came.

Then a British European Airways pilot who sometimes put bets on for me told me about his holiday in Spain. "Try Majorca," he told me.

It was 1952, long before Majorca was discovered by world tourists. The morning after I arrived, I stepped out into the relaxing sunshine and found everybody to be courteous, friendly, down to earth and helpful in a leisurely way that England had long forgotten.

I became quite sure that this island in the sun was the healthiest narcotic on the face of the earth and decided to have a stake in paradise.

I bought land, including a substantial part of one of the most beautiful sandy bays on the island, and invested in Palma's future in other ways until my stake was upwards of a quarter of a million pounds.

My advice to punters: It's important to have enough self-discipline to keep a sense of reality and avoid being silly. A sense of values with regard to prices is tremendously important.

However much of a certainty a horse may be, the price has to be right before the shrewdest backer should feel justified in backing it.

In other words, the price should be 5/1 or better on a horse that you know should be 6/4.

Click here to read Part 1.
Click here to read Part 2.
Click here to read Part 3.

By Steve Ahern