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'Britain's oldest punter' backs Grand National Long Run

A 103-year-old, believed to be Britain's oldest punter, is hoping for a change of luck in what he fears could be his final flutter.

George Atkinson said he is hoping to finally have a successful bet on the world-famous race, so he can "die a happy man" - after betting on the race for more than seven decades without success.

Mr Atkinson has placed bets religiously on the Grand National each year since the 1940s. But he has never managed to back a winner, and fears the 2014 race is his last chance.

After such a long run of betting, he has decided to pin his hopes on 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Long Run

'Britain's oldest punter' backs Long Run at Grand National Credit: Darren Starling/PA Wire

He had placed his first ever bet aged just 12, when his bookmaker grandfather took him to the Epsom Derby.

He said: "I can't remember the name as it lost - in fact they all lose. I've never even had a place.

"I was once told to back Oxo in 1959 but I didn't place a bet on it - it won and I've regretted it for 55 years."

William Hill has given him a £103 bet - £51.50 each way - as he tries to fulfil his dream of a Grand National win.

He has decided to put it on Long Run - whose odds of winning are currently at 14/1 - and said: "It has been a long run without a winner and it feels like my time."

  1. Ian Payne

The 'greatest race horse ever' becomes a father

Frankel, arguably the greatest race horse ever, has become a dad. A mare called Chrysanthemum gave birth to a colt in Ireland, who even has a white blaze marking on his head - just like his father.

Frankel won all 14 races he competed in. Credit: David Davies/PA Archive

Frankel, the world's top-rated racehorse, retired to stud in 2012 after winning all 14 of his races. He sired 133 mares in total near Newmarket between February and June 2013.

Scans showed that of the 133, 126 are in foal, a fertility rate of 95%. Each stud fee was £125,000, but if there is a foetal death, the breeders follows a no foal no fee policy. A mare's pregnancy lasts 11 months.

Frankel has yielded an estimated £15 million for his first season in stud, and could reap a total of more than £100 million for his breeders Juddmonte Farms and owner Khalid Abdullah.

Last month, Godolphin racing boss Sheikh Mohammed - the ruler of Dubai - paid about £4m for the 2011 Oaks winner Dancing Rain, who is pregnant by Frankel.

The new foal's mother, who's six-years-old, like his father, was trained to two Group Three wins during her career and is herself the daughter of champion Sire Danehuill dancer. It's her first foal.


Jenny McCririck: John's taken tribunal verdict 'badly'

The wife of John McCririck has told ITV News that he has taken an employment tribunal's decision that he wasn't sacked because of his age "quite badly" and he is "quite upset."

Jenny McCririck said the racing pundit thought he would win the case against Channel 4 and "couldn't believe" he had lost.

She said it was unlikely they would appeal the tribunal's decision which she described as "disappointing".

And she rejected claims in the judgement that it was her husband's pantomime persona that was 'unpalatable' to programme makers not his age.

In a statement Channel 4 welcomed the ruling and said it was disappointed the claim had been brought to court.

Channel 4 welcomes McCririck tribunal decision

Channel 4 today welcomed an Employment Tribunal's decision to throw out a claim of age discrimination brought by former Racing presenter John McCririck.

We welcome the unanimous verdict of the tribunal that John McCririck’s claim fails and that Channel 4 did not discriminate on the basis of age.

We are grateful to John for his contribution towards Channel 4’s racing coverage over many years but disappointed that he decided to bring this claim.

– Channel 4

McCririck's opinions 'arrogant and confrontational'

The employment tribunal which today dismissed John McCririck's claim of age discrimination against Channel 4 has published its judgment in full.

It says the racing pundit's persona and opinions were out of keeping with the new programme:

Mr McCririck was dismissed because of his persona...his style of dress, attitudes, opinions and tic tac gestures were not in keeping with the new aims and his opinions seen as arrogant and confrontational.

– Tribunals Judiciary


Tribunal: McCririck's 'pantomime persona unpalatable'

In its judgement, the Employment Tribunal blamed Mr McCririck's on-screen persona for his demise.

All the evidence is that Mr McCririck's pantomime persona, as demonstrated on the celebrity television appearances, and his persona when appearing on Channel 4 Racing, together with his self-described bigoted and male chauvinist views were clearly unpalatable to a wider potential audience.

The tribunal is satisfied that the respondent had the legitimate aim of attracting a wider audience to horseracing.

McCririck: Age discrimination defeat 'an historic setback'

Racing pundit John McCririck has given his reaction to losing his age discrimination case against Channel 4 today.

This is an historic setback for all employees in their 30s to their 70s.

After such a landmark judicial verdict, my failed legal action ensures that anonymous suits and skirts, who control the media, numerous other businesses and the public sector, will now enjoy complete freedom to replace older employees whatever their unimpaired ability and merit.

I have let them all down along with my wife, the Booby, my legal team, friends, colleagues and countless members of the public who supported me throughout. My grateful thanks and apologies to every one of them.

Former Labour home secretary David Blunkett MP said in August: 'The way TV executives worship the cult of youth seems to be an unstoppable fetish'.

It is now.

Trainer: McCoy could win on a monkey

AP McCoy's trainer said the record-breaking jockey is so good he could win a race riding a monkey.

Jonjo O'Neill said after McCoy's 4,000th win:

It's just amazing. You can't put words to it, but the man is fantastic. He's a fantastic man and a fantastic jockey.

Old horses, young horses, monkeys. You name it, he can win on it, that's the fantastic thing about him - it doesn't matter what it is he just wants to ride winners.

I can't finds words to describe the fella. I'm just so pleased to have him.

– Jonjo O'Neill
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