“The talents with which both my parents’ families had been lavishly endowed had not descended to me. This had become painfully clear to them when at the age of four I had failed to distinguish between the notes of an oboe and a cor anglais.”
Rob Finn, lacking his family’s musical talents, became a jockey. A sudden winning streak put Finn into the forefront of steeplechase jockeys, but it collapsed with a thud, the ensuing lack of success being worse than his previous form.
Word went around that Finn had lost his nerve, but he discovered that it was part of a systematic rumour campaign to discredit jockeys, helped along in his own case by the doping of his horses. In the process of finding the source of the rumours, Finn suffered serious [almost obligatory in Francis’s novels] mauling from the culprit.