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Picture: 123RF/CHRIS VAN LENNEP
Picture: 123RF/CHRIS VAN LENNEP

Racing Writer — As shock predictions go the one from UK bookmaker William Hill on Saturday morning takes some beating. A spokesperson said: “We could see a quarter of a billion pounds in turnover across the betting industry this weekend.”

Tony Kenny said: “We are seeing three of the biggest sporting events of the year collide — the Grand National, the Masters and the football game between Liverpool and Manchester City.

“We expect 3-million bets to be placed on the Grand National alone, the next few days are heaven for sports fans,” he added.

Kenny said he expected £20m to be wagered on the Masters and that the football would attract the highest number of bets since the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy.

“We’re predicting it to be one of the busiest periods we’ve ever had at William Hill with the industry turnover for the Grand National alone heading towards £200m.”

Ladbrokes’ Nicola McGeady said: “Half the adult population of England and Ireland have a bet on the National. The National itself is a £150m betting race and we could see record levels of turnover.”

Fast forward to Monday and those betting firms owners will be throwing their hats in the air — they couldn’t have got a better result in the Grand National than the victory by 50-1 shot Noble Yeats.

Back to Tony Kenny: “It was an excellent result in the trading room with Noble Yeats one of the 40 runners who wasn’t fancied and all in all it’s looking like being one of the top five best results we could have hoped for.”

Paddy Power’s Paul Binfield said: “We had a sizeable liability on Minella Times and had seen plenty of each-way support for Good Boy Bobby, Dingo Dollar and, in particular, Snow Leopardess.”

The National result with Noble Yeats narrowly beating the 15-2 favourite Any Second Now (who traded at 1.2 on Betfair at one stage) was a fairytale for 40-year-old amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen who had announced he would retire after the race.

The owner of a dental business, Waley-Cohen was mobbed by well wishers.

“It really could not be better and couldn’t be any sweeter. To win this race, you have to have a lot of luck and be on the right horse,” said the elated jockey. The winner was a first National runner for 32-year-old Irish trainer Emmet Mullins.

Mullins told reporters: “I think I’m understandably shell-shocked. This is just the thing of dreams. I don’t know where it came from.”

From a SA point of view, bookmaker Lance Michael said they had been “busy” but that the Grand National wasn’t nearly as popular with punters as the Durban July.

Even so, most backers will have had empty pockets at the end of the weekend with outsiders winning at Turffontein and the Pick Six paying R233,000. There was no chance to get out of jail on Sunday with the meeting scheduled for Greyville postponed due to a waterlogged track.

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