Dick Francis' position as the leading writer of British thoroughbred racing thrillers remains secure--despite an interesting challenge from this talented newcomer. Georgie Blaine is a steeplechase rider in the twilight of a fairly successful career. He's been known to take the racing equivalent of a ""dive"" now and then; against the backdrop of a generally corrupt sport--including the legal, ""legitimate"" gambling establishments--throwing an occasional race is practically viewed as part of the job. Besides, Georgie's penchant for wine, women, and song has become a bit expensive, not to mention the cost of maintaining a wife and family. At about the same time his wife issues an ultimatum to end his dissolute ways, Georgie is approached by what he calls ""one of the new-style villains,"" the Hon. Oliver Parker. The oily-slick son of an obscure baron represents interests that promise a whopping 60,000 pounds if only Georgie will throw the King George VI, a major race traditionally left unsullied by the fixers. What follows--rather tortuously--is a series of events culminating in the discovery by Georgie of just how deep the corruption in racing has burrowed. The moral question becomes as convoluted as the plot, leaving him to search for a shred of integrity in himself and his profession. Daniel has some fine stretches, but all too often--in his attempt to bring depth and ""seriousness"" to the racing novel--he pushes just a little too hard, reaches just a little beyond: ""That is what makes the stomach contract like a giant mollusc gulping and turns the nipples to candy kisses."" This literary groping detracts from what might have been an entertaining novel.