Racing: Tote punters get bottom draw

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A FREAK dividend stunned Tote punters who correctly forecast the first three home in a 20-runner sprint at Nottingham yesterday. The Tote Trio paid just pounds 13.40 to a pounds 1 stake, even though the odds of the first three home were 9-1, 11-2 and 6-1, writes Chris Corrigan.

Even Tote punters who put just a straight pounds 1 win bet on the winner, King Uno, were paid pounds 15.70. The Tricast, the Trio's rival commonly used in betting shops, paid pounds 255.65. The computerised Tricast requires the first three horses to be forecast in correct order, while the Trio pool bet combines all six permutations from the three horses into one stake. In theory, then, the Tricast might be expected to be six times the Trio dividend. Yesterday, in the Miles 33 Handicap, the Tricast paid 19 times the Trio.

The key to what happened in the 4.15 race was that the first three finishers, King Uno, Statoyork and Mezzoramio, were drawn 18, 19 and 20 - the three closest to the stands rail.

Clearly, plenty of punters - including some heavy-hitters - planned to exploit the advantage that high numbers frequently enjoy in Nottingham sprints.

The irony is that the Tote's Trio generally offers better value than the bookmaker-designed Tricast, and the sad fact for punters looking for value in a race such as the one at Nottingham yesterday is that the bookmakers already ''load'' the Tricast computer to give smaller dividends for races in which the draw offers an edge.