The ‘Whizz-kid’ is Jack Burton, a boy from the Goldfields’ town of Kalgoorlie, who wants to be an apprentice jockey. Almost jokingly, Jack’s father ‘Boy’ Burton, suggests that career path, and then has to stand back and watch his son’s introduction to the world of thoroughbred horse racing, which is both dynamic and dangerous.
Featuring in the passing parade of characters from the ‘Sport of Kings’ are the Stewards, who make and enforce the rules, and the cheats and criminals who try to bend and break them. There is also the state’s biggest owner- breeder, and a range of horse trainers; some who are just starting out, others who are struggling to survive, and one who is making a comeback at 71 years of age and relishing getting ‘another chance’.
Into that ‘heady’ mix are thrown a crusty newspaper Editor and his young protégé, the staff of a chemical analysis laboratory, private investigators, lawyers and two brothel Madams, from opposite sides of Australia, who have very different attitudes, agendas and perspectives on life.
Towering above all of that are the horses, which all have their own unique stories. Named after popular songs, playwrights and a surfing beach in South Africa, they all have one thing in common. They have the courage to run fast, and do so, especially for apprentice jockey, Jack Burton, the ‘Whizz-kid’.
Jeff Hopkins (1950) is a retired schoolteacher. He lives in Western Australia with his black Labrador dog, Sammy. As the drama master at a private boys' school he wrote eleven original musical plays and produced and directed them at the school. In 1992, he researched and wrote a family history, Life's Race Well Run, and since retiring in 2006 he has written eleven novels: - Artifice (2015) - Gnarl (2015) - The Spiv: The Robbie Sparrow Story (2015) - Impressment (2015) - Benedict Lovelace and the Travelling Show (2016) - Reflections (2016) - Rocking Horse Rider (2016) - The Hydrographer: The Clyde Steadman Story (2017) - Lord Gnarl (2017). - Caliphs and Kings (2018) and - Handsome Jack: A Whizz-kid's Story (2019). Jeff previously maintained he wrote entirely for pleasure, and to fill in the long summer months between football seasons. Recently he has admitted that he set himself the task of writing in a number of different genres as part of a three-year programme to learn about creative writing and self-publishing. He said it was like an undergraduate degree course for which there was a strict budget and work schedule. It has since become clear that the whole experiment was one of the most interesting and absorbing things he had done in his life. He continues to write.