Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Life's a gamble, so they say

I usually have a bet on two race meetings a year – the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National meeting. It is the Cheltenham Festival this week and I started off by betting on the Champion Hurdle. Unfortunately my favoured horse was also the bookmaker's favourite, Binocular, owned by J P McManus. I would not normally bet on a favourite as I prefer to go for something with better odds. Nevertheless I really like Binocular and had a little flutter.

Sadly, despite a valiant run towards the line Binocular – in the green and yellow colours, came in third, a head behind Punjabi and Celestial Halo.

In the next race I fancied but didn't back L'Ami. In the end it came in second behind Nina Carberry on Garde Champetre with Drumbeag in third - a one, two, three for the J P McManus stable. Born in Limerick, J P McManus began his business career at his family’s construction plant hire firm, and then became an on-course bookmaker at Limerick’s greyhound track,the Market's Field, before moving into horse ownership and punting and laying horses on the advice of his associate Jimmy Hayes. He also became an accomplished backgammon player. He now has a stud farm in County Kildare. In 1982, he and his wife, Noreen,a former nurse, bought Martinstown Stud on over 400 acres (1.6 km2) in County Limerick from the McCalmont family. McManus's first horse was Cill Dara, which had been owned by the late Edenderry solicitor and legendary gambler , Tim O Toole. McManus is now National Hunt racing's largest owner with over 400 horses in training. He is famed for his huge, and mostly successful, bets. His personal fortune is estimated at 4 billion Euros.

I shall hope for better luck in the Gold Cup on Friday in which I shall probably have an each way bet on Neptune Collonges (below) and Exotic Dancer (above).

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