Cheltenham Diary: Sign of the times on Cleeve Hill

Nothing, it seems, is sacred in the commercial world in which we live. The timeless Cheltenham racecourse backdrop of Cleeve Hill has been desecrated Hollywood-style. There, in the rolling folds of the edge of the Cotswolds, are 270-feet worth of giant white letters, courtesy of the Irish bookmaking firm Paddy Power, allowing it to promote its name across the whole racecourse. The edifice is 50 feet high, making it bigger than Tinseltown's eponymous landmark. It is also longer than the Cerne Abbas Giant in Dorchester, Dorset, although which bit of that is not specified.

By George: bookies hit punters with low blow

In the annual 26-rounder that is the Cheltenham Festival, the bookmakers are ahead on points after day one. The layers repelled an early attack with the defeat of hot favourite Dunguib, the Irish challenger who was the supposed banker of the meeting in the opener, and then landed a blow of their own when 33-1 shot Chief Dan George beat 9-2 favourite The Package in the three-mile handicap. But David Hood, of that race's sponsors William Hill, said: "It's too early to get carried away but we've built up a hefty bank to go to war with for the next three days."

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