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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 January, 2005, 19:04 GMT
Arthur bets on a happy new year
Arthur Best
Mr Best won on the horses at the same time he placed his bet
A Devon pensioner is thousands of pounds richer after he bet he would reach his 100th birthday.

Ten years ago Arthur Best staked 109 on reaching his centenary, at odds of 66-1.

On Sunday, Mr Best, who lives in Shrewsbury, collected a cheque for 7,303 from bookmakers William Hill.

William Hill's spokesman Graham Sharpe said: "It proved to be an inspired bet and now he's got plenty for celebrations."

Mr Best's daughter-in-law, Cynthia Best, 68, said the centenarian, who worked as a plasterer until he was 80, had "taken it all in his stride".

"He's enjoyed his day but he's not one of those people that gets overexcited," she said.

He realised when he was a young man never to worry about things
Cynthia Best
Daughter-in-law

Mrs Best said her father-in-law put his longevity down to lots of greens.

"He says he grew his own vegetables till five years ago and to 'eat plenty of fresh vegetables'. He realised when he was a young man never to worry about things."

"He's not very mobile but his mind's very active and he still likes to watch the races and pick out the horses even though he doesn't gamble anymore," she said.

Mrs Best said Arthur Best placed his birthday bet himself and had a seven-to-one win on the horses at the same time.

What are the odds?

She said he had told her husband he was going to give the money to their family: "He says my husband can use it if he wants to change the car."

Around 40 people attended a birthday party for Mr Best at his local community room on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Mr Sharpe said William Hill would take about a dozen such bets each year and offers different odds depending on the individual.

"It depends how the person that's asking is, and we can also access statistics to find out how likely it is that someone born in a certain year is to live to a hundred.

He said with life expectancy increasing all the time: "Your best chance is to be young at the moment.


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