Page 3 Profile: George Atkinson, Britain’s oldest punter


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The Independent Online

Who’s your money on then, George?

Mr Atkinson, aged 103, has placed a bet on every Grand National since the 1940s – and has never won. Fearing tomorrow may be his last shot at glory, he’s spoken out about his hopes of picking a winner so that he can “die a happy man”.

When did he first have a flutter?

Aged 12 on a trip to the Epsom Derby with his bookmaker grandfather. Looking back on that first encounter in what’s become a rather bittersweet affair, he’s said: “I can’t remember the name as it lost – in fact they all lose. I’ve never even had a place.”

And the National?

He placed his first bet on the National after leaving the Army in the 1940s. Now thought to be Britain’s oldest punter, he remains unperturbed, and even celebrated his most recent birthday down the bookies.

Surely he’s won something?

Yes, it’s not been all bad luck for George, of Swaffham in Norfolk. He scooped £301 from a £1 stake in the Irish Lottery last year, matching three numbers. But for the most part his is a cautionary tale: “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.”

Let’s hope he doesn’t fall at the first hurdle…

You’d have to be pretty cold-hearted not to back Mr Atkinson in his attempts to choose the winner of this weekend’s notoriously unpredictable race. And bookies William Hill have given him a leg-up with a free £103 bet on the world-famous race.

So who’s his money on?

George’s tip for the day is Long Run, whose odds were 14/1 at the time of going to press. Let’s see if the winner of the 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup can make a great-grandfather very happy…