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Page last updated at 20:05 GMT, Sunday, 15 November 2009

Course refunds 6,000 to punters

By Frank Keogh

Andrew McNamara on Tranquil Sea
McNamara and Tranquil Sea drive on up the hill for a valuable victory

Two hundred punters were celebrating refunds of £30 each after a marketing exercise left Cheltenham racecourse having to make a £6,000 payout.

Racegoers who bought Club badges in advance for Saturday's card were told they would get their money back if an Irish-trained horse won the big race.

There had been no Irish winner for 29 years, but Tranquil Sea won the Paddy Power Gold Cup to change all that.

"We covered the risk by betting on an Irish-trained win," said a spokesman.

Although the Cheltenham Festival in March is forever associated with racegoers and horses from Ireland, no Irish-trained horse had landed the big November race since Bright Highway in 1980.

To encourage advance sales for the Open meeting, course officials dreamed up the offer.

"There were around 200 customers who took advantage of our offer and will be getting a full refund. The tickets were purchased at £30 each, so that's a total of £6,000," added the course spokesman.

They had turned down the chance to buy cheaper £27 tickets, and gambled on the Irish prevailing.

"It would have been a success even if it did cost £6,000 given the amount of publicity it generated, but in fact we placed a bet back in September to cover the risk, so it has cost us very little," said the spokesman.

And the course is risking another hefty bill by offering anyone who buys a full-price £40 Tattersalls ticket for the Wednesday of the Festival their money back if no Irish horse wins on that St Patrick's Day card.

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see also
Tranquil Sea ends Irish drought
14 Nov 09 |  Horse Racing
Well Chief shocks Master Minded
15 Nov 09 |  Horse Racing

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