Sum burden for Dunguib
TUESDAY'S Supreme Novices' Hurdle is more than just a race. The opening contest of the Cheltenham extravaganza, in the words of one gambling associate, "will determine the true state of the Irish economy".
On form, Dunguib should surely be a more prohibitive price -- but how much, indeed, will he cost bookmakers in the event of his likely victory?
"Because we're doing the big special on Dunguib (money back on losing bets if he wins) we've laid a huge spread of bets in the race," explained Paddy Power.
"We don't know exactly how bad it'll be but we're guesstimating about €2m. I think he'll go off 8/11, but I'm pretty sure he'll touch evens during the morning. Every Irishman thinks he's a certainty, and every pint of Guinness on Tuesday makes him even more of a certainty."
Celtic Bookmakers' John Sheil does not envisage the horse's price contracting much. "The view in Ireland is that he will win and the view in the UK is that he can be beaten -- this is the reason why he is trading at evens on the exchanges."
William Hill's Tony Kenny, meanwhile, struggles to quantify what a Dunguib victory would mean.
"It's not even so much the cost of him winning in terms of the race, but the wider repercussions as he is in virtually every accumulator going."
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WBX.com have played down the damage a Go Native victory in the same day's Champion Hurdle will do to the fledgling betting exchange.
Indeed, it would be a good thing for everyone, insists public relations manager Iain Turner.
WBX must fork out £1m to connections of Go Native if he completes the Fighting Fifth/Christmas Hurdle/Champion Hurdle treble, prompting some speculation that success for Noel Meade's favourite would have serious repercussions for the future of the company.
"We've taken the punt anyway and it would be a substantial . . . but it's all budgeted for. It comes with a PR and marketing expense and once it is linked into the budget and plans have been made, we're almost in a position to say 'let's go for it'. If he does win, there are more PR and marketing benefits."
Contrary to reports, WBX have hedged some of their bets in the event that Go Native obliges. "We've had something to insure ourselves on it -- we'd be foolish not to," Turner reasoned.
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THERE was a relatively happy outcome to the Danny Grant case. The jockey had tested positive for a metabolite of cocaine, but will miss virtually no racing as a result of Friday's judgement by the Turf Club.
Following submissions on the jockey's behalf, Grant was disqualified for six months with effect from Friday, five months of which is to be suspended. As he is presently sidelined for around a month anyway, it could have been worse for Pat Flynn's stable jockey.
Apart from the impact of the bare details of the ban, his reputation has been saved: the Turf Club conceded that the positive test might have been as a result of the use of "contaminated legitimate medication", which Grant took for chronic eczema.
"I am delighted for Danny," said Flynn, "as I never believed for a moment that he took cocaine. He can get on with his career now with his reputation intact. The Turf Club's conduct throughout the whole case was exemplary and very fair."
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Punters will bid to add weight to their Cheltenham war chest by winning the battle at Limerick and Navan this afternoon. The most interesting contests are by the Boyne and Taravada should go very close in the beginners' chase.
Jessica Harrington's seven-year-old has less to do here after finishing a creditable third lately to Kempes and Jagoes Mills. In the novices' hurdle, a very strong and competitive race of its type, Quito De La Roque may have too much class for his seven foes.