After almost 70 years of failed attempts, George who is now 103 years old, still continues to place bets after his first one after leaving the Army in the 1940s. Unfortunately for him, he’s never been able to bet on the winner and is concerned that the 2014 race may be his final opportunity.
After such a long streak of losses, for him it’s as clear as day that he should be backing the 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Long Run. George, who is from Swaffham, Norfolk, says: “All winners are great but the National would be a dream come true for me. I could die a happy man. It’s been a while without a winner and now feels like my time.”
He placed his first ever bet racing bet when he was only 12 after his grandfather, who was a bookmaker, took him to the Derby. George says that he: “..can’t remember the name of the horse because it lost – they’ve all lost. I’ve never even had a place winner. I was given a tip once, to back Oxo in 1959 but I didn’t put a bet. It won and I’ve regretted it ever since then.”
Racing is not George’s only love affair. Last year he managed £300 from a £1 stake from the Irish Lottery. "Horses are my number one but I do love a dog race too,” he says.
“Seven is my lucky number, but I can’t say I’m the luckiest punter.”
The widowed father-of-seven, who is also a great-grandfather, visits his local William Hill branch twice every day and even celebrated his 103rd birthday which prompted the shop to give him a £103 bet – £51.50 each way – as he attempts to fulfill his long standing dream of a Grand National win. Long Run’s odds are at a solid 14/1.
The manager of William Hill in Swaffham, Yvonne Dobinson, said: “George is living proof of the difficulty of winning the Grand National but he’s made a champion this year and even we in the company will be cheering on Long Run for his sake.”
The company has taken over five million bets on the Grand National last year and expects to accept over £30million on Saturday’s race. They claim that 57% of the adult population will place a bet this coming weekend.
In a survey ordered by William Hill and performed by Populus, 36% stated that they choose a horse by name, 17% by the odds, nine per cent just make a random selection and two per cent are mainly influenced by the colours that the jockey wears.