Gorgeous helps stop greyhound racing from going to the dogs

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The Independent Online
An ordinary greyhound adopted by a new television game show for lottery losers is set to become Britain's most famous dog after unexpectedly romping home at generous odds in front of millions of armchair fans.

Gorgeous, a previously unknown two-year-old black and white bitch, is the star turn in a Channel 4 series called Last Chance Lottery aimed at the vast majority of punters who end up out of pocket every week on the National Lottery.

In its first programme on Saturday night, shown an hour after the main lottery draw, the bulk of the show's pounds 300 "jackpot" was put on the dog at 7-1 in the 9.30 at Harlow.

Overcoming a slow start from trap four, Gorgeous defied the long odds and turned the form book upside down by winning the race by several lengths. The win, only her fourth, was worth a mere pounds 250 in prize money but it netted the Last Chance Lottery show a tax-free pounds 2,160.

Her victory was greeted with incredulity by the show's host, comedian Patrick Kielty, and those connected with Gorgeous.

"Nobody expected her to win," said Jenni Marsh, the dog's owner. "She certainly didn't have a very good preparation, what with going up and down to the television studios for several days before the race. But on the night she felt right. She likes being a film star."

Indeed, Gorgeous is likely to remain in the limelight for some time to come because the game show plans to chart her progress over the next nine Saturdays at different tracks.

"It is a truly innovative piece of TV and greyhound racing has done well to secure some precious prime-time exposure," said Bob Betts writing in The Sporting Life, the punter's bible. It is exposure the industry desperately needs. Once a regular feature in the 1970s on ITV's World of Sport, greyhound racing is now lucky to get any air time on the main channels.

The impact of the lottery has heightened the industry's plight, leading to falling attendances and dwindling turnover at dog tracks up and down the country and forcing some to close.

And another blow could be delivered on Wednesday week when Camelot, the National Lottery organiser, launches a televised midweek draw with a guaranteed pounds 10m jackpot.

In the short term, Gorgeous could prove the surprise package that comes to greyhound racing's rescue. But punters hoping to scoop a lottery-style windfall on her next outing are likely to be disappointed.

"One thing is for sure," said Mike Dillon of Ladbroke, Britain's biggest bookmaker. "Gorgeous will not be 7-1 next week. The world and his wife will want to be on her."

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