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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 March 2008, 15:58 GMT
Bets halted over 'super dog' fear
Working Sheep Dog, seven-year-old Twig, performs at Crufts 2008
The prestigious Best In Show will be awarded on Sunday
Concerns that a mystery "super dog" will paw Crufts' top prize has led a bookmaker to cease taking bets.

William Hill said it closed the book on which category of dog would win Best in Show after a "flurry of activity" over two days backed a "utility" dog winner.

Odds for the usually unfancied group, which includes dalmatians and bulldogs, were slashed from 13-2 to 1-2.

The firm's Rupert Adams said: "There must be people in the know who are aware of an absolute wonder dog."

Thousands of dog lovers and their pets are gathering for the start of the world's largest dog show, with almost 23,000 dogs, including 1,165 from overseas, expected to take part in the four-day event.

The Best in Show is chosen from the winners of seven different categories, which include terrier, hound, toy, gun and working dogs.

Mr Adams said William Hill had been taking bets for the show's "supreme winner" for about 10 years.

"It is the first time we have closed the bets on Crufts," he said.

"I can't guarantee that a utility dog will win, but obviously it seems one has a good chance."

He added there was "nothing dodgy" about the situation, but the firm thought an outsider they were not aware of had entered into the race.

Christmas race

Mr Adams said a similar thing happened in December when Katie Melua's A Wonderful World unexpectedly entered the race for Christmas number one.

A spokeswoman for the Kennel Club said the winner could not be predicted.

"It's highly amusing to us as we don't understand how anybody could second-guess the judges," she said.

She added that a dog from the utility group won Best in Show last year - when Willy, a Tibetan terrier, took the coveted title.

The Kennel Club has said this year will see the second largest show in Crufts' history.

The biggest was the centenary show in 1991. The event was founded by entrepreneur Charles Cruft in 1891.

The Best in Show title will be awarded on Sunday.

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