Sunday 17 December 2017

A monstrous pact with baleful gods

The compulsive pursuit of free money is not confined to betting offices, writes Declan Lynch

LIKE many punters, I suppose that my first reaction to the news that An Post manager Tony O'Reilly had eventually been found in Belfast after wagering 40 grand on a single event and winning about 27 grand, was that he must have backed So You Think to win the prestigious Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park.

There had been a flood of "smart money" throughout last week for the Aidan O'Brien-trained colt, which ended up favourite at odds of 4/6, despite the presence in the race of last year's Derby and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Workforce. And sure enough, the race developed into an enthralling contest between the two main contenders, with Seamie Heffernan on So You Think and Ryan Moore on Workforce riding like demons for the last few furlongs -- at the post, the winning distance was half-a-length.

Like many punters, I have often wondered what it must be like to have a serious amount of money on such an event, maybe 10 grand, 20 grand, even 40 grand. Most of us with our 10s, 20s or 40s never get to that place where you find men betting a year's wages on a race that ends in a photo-finish, or a football match that is settled by a terrible refereeing decision, or a tennis match that is decided by a ball landing a millimetre on the wrong side -- or the right side -- of the line.

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