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Sporting stars and TV presenters out to bash bookies

It’s the biggest week of the year for Britain’s bookmakers, and on the eve of the Cheltenham Festival, it’s not just Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins who the bookies fear, sporting stars Victoria Pendleton, Alan Shearer and Lee Westwood, and TV presenters Ant and Dec are also out to strike a blow for punters.

Olympic cycling champion Pendleton, who only began riding last year, lines up in Friday’s Foxhunter Chase on board Pacha Du Polder.  Her mount has already been backed from 33-1 down to 12-1 with bookmaker Coral, as punters put their faith in the former cycling golden girl, and those odds will tumble further in the build up to the big race.

Meanwhile, former England striker Shearer, golfer Westwood and Ant and Dec are among the owners of Augusta Kate, strongly fancied for Wednesday’s Champion Bumper, while trainer Willie Mullins, who sent out a record eight winners at last year’s Festival, is back with another strong squad, including four red hot favourites on day one alone, Min, Douvan, Annie Power and Vroum Vroum Mag.

“This is a huge week for us, with more than £250 wagered across the UK over the four days of the Festival, and while Irish trainer Willie Mullins was our nemesis twelve months ago, and could be again this year, the presence of Victoria Pendleton in the saddle, and Alan Shearer and Ant and Dec as owners gives us something else to fear, as their runners will be extremely popular with punters this week,” said Coral’s David Stevens.

“The last fence fall of Annie Power last year saved the bookies millions, but four winners for Willie Mullins tomorrow will start the week on the worst possible note for us, while wins for Augusta Kate on Wednesday and Pacha Du Polder on Friday would prove a knockout blow,” added Stevens.

*OLYMPIC CHAMP PENDLETON SET TO CARRY PUNTERS’ HOPES ON FOUR LEGS

Victoria Pendleton is just evens to complete the course, and 5-1 to finish in the first three, and Coral say her change from two wheels to four legs has captured the imagination of the wider public, which will ensure Pacha Du Polder is one of the most popular horses at the entire four day Cheltenham Festival.

“The Foxhunter was the 14th biggest betting race of 2015 in Coral shops, and the presence of Victoria Pendleton in this year’s race will ensure it is even bigger this year.  Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that Pacha Du Polder will be one of the best-backed horses of the entire Festival, with his rider enjoying a far wider following than her rivals,” said Coral’s David Stevens.

“The odds on her winning the race have already been slashed from 33-1 to 12-1, and while she carried the hopes of a nation during the Olympics, this time she will be carrying the nation’s cash, and if she did complete an amazing win, the bookies would be hit to the tune of £10 million,” added Stevens.

**St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase – Coral bet

2 On The Fringe, 7 Aupcharlie, Marito, Paint The Clouds, 8 It Came To Pass, Mendip Express, 12 Pacha Du Polder, 14 Current Event, 16 Dark Lover, Mr Mercurial, 20 Carsonstown Boy, Pearlysteps, 25 Chapoturgeon, Impact Area, Twirling Magnet, 33 Bar

*ENGLAND LEGEND SHEARER LOOKING FORWARD TO ‘UNREAL’ CHELTENHAM CHANCE

Former England striker Alan Shearer has described as ‘unreal’ the prospect of seeing Augusta Kate line up as a leading fancy in Wednesday’s Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival, a race the Willie Mullins-trained mare is currently 7-1 second favourite with Coral for.

Shearer, who is part of The Masters Syndicate who owns the 5-y-o, along with golfer Lee Westwood, his manager Chubby Chandler, leading owner Graham Wylie, and TV presenters Ant and Dec, spoke exclusively in his coral.co.uk blog about the horse and her chances of success on racing’s biggest stage.

“The plan is to run Augusta Kate in the Champion Bumper on the Wednesday, the last race of the day. Willie [Mullins] says she never shows at home what she’s shown on the track and she’s taken their breath away with her performances to date. It’s unreal and I’m so looking forward to it as I’ve had runners at Cheltenham before but I’ve not had a favourite. So fingers crossed, you never know, we might strike lucky.”

“When Graham Wylie put the syndicate together [at last year’s Masters at Augusta] we knew that he’d want us to have a decent horse and to experience success, so I know he was delighted when Augusta Kate won her first race. But neither he nor Willie ever expected her to do what she’s done so far in the style that she’s done it, winning by 23 lengths at Listowel and then seven lengths at Navan, so we are all very excited.”

“Lee [Westwood], Chubby [Chandler], Graham and I all plan to be there and we are just waiting to see if Ant and Dec will be coming, as hopefully we’ll all be there to cheer her on, and who knows, maybe even celebrate something special.”

Coral’s David Stevens added:  “Alan’s beloved Newcastle haven’t given him much to cheer this season, but while his team fights relegation, he can at least look forward to the excitement of Augusta Kate, who heads to Cheltenham with a great chance of winning.”

**Weatherbys Champion Bumper – Coral bet

5 Ballyandy, 7 Augusta Kate, 8 New To This Town, 10 Avenir D’Une Vie, Castello Sforza, 12 Coeur Blimey, High Bridge, Westend Story, 14 First Figaro, 16 Admiral Chief, Bacardys, Battleford, Invitation Only, Very Much So, 20 Bar

ENDS

Further Information Contact

David Stevens 07720 400438

Simon Clare 07860 465139