Category: Archive

Minister’s horse sense leads to windfall at Cheltenham

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — A Cheltenham betting coup has left Sports Minister Jim McDaid a big winner after a series of punts landed him a purse of about £75,000.

McDaid had fancied See More Business, the winner of the Gold Cup at the British racing festival and had been placing bets on it since last November.

"It was one of these freak bets. It’s nice to do it," the 49-year-old McDaid, a medical doctor who was elected in Donegal North-East constituency 10 years ago, told RTE.

"You get ups and downs on it and yesterday was one of those days when it is nice to be up on it."

McDaid, who is paid £87,436 a year as minister for tourism, sport and recreation, said he had backed See More Business "at every price" for the last five months, felling that with jockey Mick Fitzgerald, it was a winning combination.

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In fact, the shrewd minister had other wins. He backed FitzGerald as top jockey of the meeting and also had a canny 7/4 bet on Istabraq, which he had placed last November.

It won its second successive Smurfit Champion Hurdle but the starting odds had plummeted to punishing 4/9.

He said he had placed punts at various odds and betting combinations on See More Business before a final Cheltenham wager at 16/1 on the day of the race."

The minister, a well known lover of the horses and a regular at Cheltenham for 18 years, said he had lost a lot of money on the same horse at last year’s meeting.

A racing enthusiast since he was a schoolboy in Letterkenny, McDaid described his win as "probably a temporary loan."

"The bookies normally get it back," he said. "The way I bet it will take a fair while to get that amount back."

The minister said his normal bet was £25 each way or sometimes £50 each way.

He is part of a Dail syndicate of 16 TDs that owns the racehorse Arctic Copper. It is due to have its first outing shortly.

Cheltenham had a big government representation last week, with Tanaiste Mary Harney, Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy, and Agriculture Minister Joe Walsh among the attendance.

McDaid and his confidence in the Gold Cup winner also brought a betting windfall for two other Fianna Fail colleagues.

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