The Long Riders' Guild

"Geographical," the magazine of the Royal Geographical Society, declares Hopkins a fraud

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Fellows expose fraud

Two RGS Fellows have been drawing attention to what they call "the biggest Wild West hoax in American history" ahead of the release of Disney's latest cinema epic, Hidalgo.  Fellows Basha and CuChullaine O'Reilly, founders of the Long Riders' Guild, argue that claims made by self-publicist Frank Hopkins - including his winning a 5,000-kilometre endurance race in Arabia called the Ocean of Fire with 33 hours to spare, the focus of Hidalgo - are entirely false.  In fact, there is no evidence that the race ever existed.
"It is just plain wrong that the Walt Disney company should be setting this old charlatan up as an all-American hero," Basha O'Reilly told Geographical. "It's not as if Frank Hopkins had been a kindly old grandfather-figure telling a few tales around the campfire.  His tactic was always the same - wait until somebody famous dies then tell everyone he was your best friend, steal his accomplishments, and slander him." 
The couple's claims are backed up by University of Oklahoma Old West expert David Dary.  "It's a good story but it isn't true," he said.
Hopkins claimed to have won nearly 500 races and that he was a three-time winner of the title, "World's Greatest Horseman."  Supposedly the son of the only white survivor of Custer's Last Stand and a Sioux princess, he was said to have become a despatch rider at the age of 12 and later worked as a secret agent and bounty hunter, among other things.  However, the counterfeit cowboy was discovered digging subway tunnels in Philadelphia, and although he worked as a horse-handler, there isn't a single photo of him in the saddle.
The O'Reillys have written a book, Hidalgo and Other Stories, that details academic opinion and features all of Hopkins known writings.  "It became a personal issue with us when he tried to steal the amazing exploits of our favourite Long Riders," said Basha O'Reilly.