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Last Updated: Friday, 2 April, 2004, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
Bookies expect record payday
By Frank Keogh
BBC Sport, Aintree

Bookmakers believe record sums will be bet on Saturday's Martell Cognac Grand National despite race-fixing allegations which have rocked the sport.

More than 110m is expected to be wagered on the Aintree marathon, with a third of the UK's adult population - up to 15m people - expected to have a flutter.

FACTORS PUNTERS USE IN CHOOSING A HORSE*
A punter in a betting shop
Name 66%
Pot luck 52%
Form 42%
Jockey 27%
Jockey silks 11%

*Research by Ladbrokes

Racing hit the headlines for the wrong reasons last month with claims of suspicious betting patterns and champion Flat jockey Kieren Fallon facing race-fixing claims, which he denies.

But bookies are expecting punters to shrug off the controversy, and are braced for bumper turnover.

The FA Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Manchester United, just hours before the National, is expected to help take the weekend's total takings on all betting past the 200m mark.

"Never before have we needed the Grand National so desperately as we need it now, and the world's most famous horse race can prove a massive shot in the arm for the sport," said Coral bookmakers spokesman Simon Clare.

"The Grand National is a national institution and we are confident that the once-a-year punters will still be out in their millions to place their annual flutter."'

Jurancon II will be among the favourites for the big race, partly thanks to the booking of champion jockey Tony McCoy, who has a loyal following among punters.

McCoy has broken records for the number of winners he has ridden, but has yet to claim victory in the National.

Other horses likely to be well supported include the last two winners of the race, Bindaree and Monty's Pass.

Amberleigh House, trained by Ginger McCain, who won the race three times with Red Rum, is another popular choice.

Gunner Welburn
Gunner Welburn will be carrying the hopes of many Arsenal fans

And many Arsenal fans will be placing doubles on the Gunners to beat United, and Gunner Welburn winning at Aintree, at combined odds of 60-1.

Jenny Prest, a spokesman for bookmakers William Hill, said: "We are predicting Gunner Welburn will be one of the best backed runners of the day as footy fans pile money on 'their' horse."

William Hill are expecting more than 100,000 calls on their special phone betting lines, with 10 bets a second processed during peak demand.

Meanwhile, figures released by the UK's biggest bookmaker, Ladbrokes, on Friday showed that a horse's name was used by most people when picking a winner.

The average stake is estimated at 1 to 2, although about 2% of punters bet over 50 on the race.




SEE ALSO
Monty's Pass wins Grand National
05 Apr 03  |  Horse Racing


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