SPITFIRE pilot, champion jockey and thriller-writing legend are just some of the achievements Dick Francis was able to list on his colourful CV before his death aged 89 in February last year.

His son, Felix Francis, who describes his father as an “exceptional man”, co-wrote four novels with him and has now taken over the reins in the lucrative racing thriller stable which guarantees bestsellers.

Gamble, the first novel the Oxfordshire author has produced alone, has just been published by Penguin imprint Michael Joseph.

The novel is all his own work, but the cover still carries the strapline ‘A Dick Francis novel’ to make the connection with the author of 40 international bestsellers, whose first thriller Dead Cert came out in 1962.

The 58-year-old former physics teacher lives in Banbury with wife Debbie and he has just finished installing a library in his home, which archives his father’s work.

Francis managed his father’s affairs for 20 years after giving up teaching and he tells The Guide: “I hope in time that the library will become the Dick and Felix Francis Library.

“I have been renovating a 400-year-old house and I have converted a barn into a two-level office and library, which contains all the editions of my father's books, his writing awards, manuscripts and family films and photos.

“The library is connected to my office and I usually write in my office. Now the work is finished, I am looking forward to being able to write without the noise of saws and jackhammers in the background.”

The writer has lived in the Banbury area since 1985 and has strong Oxfordshire connections as his parents lived in Blewbury near Didcot when he was growing up before they sold the house in 1986.

He speaks to The Guide from the car park of a hotel near Chichester where he has been staying en route to a day at the races at Lingfield Park.

His visit to the racecourse is for research purposes as one of the characters in his next two novels will be a race commentator.

Francis says it is “strange not to have the man (his father) around to read, discuss, give pointers, directions and help” when a new work of fiction is being created.

But he is fully committed to the cause and is under starter’s orders to complete two novels in 2012. He talks enthusiastically about the process of writing fiction, explaining his preference for first-person narratives, a technique he employs deftly in Gamble.

In a page turner his father would have approved of, financial adviser Nick ‘Foxy Foxton tries to find out why his American colleague Herb Kovak was shot dead at Aintree’s Grand National.

The novel went in at number seven in The Sunday Times bestseller list and the author is hoping the story will also sell well in the United States.

Unlike his father, the author was never keen on riding horses, preferring to admire them from a distance.

While he loves racing people, he is not a great gambler because he has met too many rich bookmakers.

It’s quite clear that Felix Francis is no novice when it comes to writing racing thrillers, and should expect to increase his winnings with future dastardly tales from the sport of kings.