News Mike Ashley has mellowed in recent years, so his stake in Debenhams surprised the City

The Sports Direct tycoon is well known for keeping rivals guessing. Simon Neville attempts to unravel his stakebuilding plan for Debenhams

Racing: Success lurks in the pool

LOSING MONEY to those pleasant females in Cheltenham's Tote booths is somehow more tolerable than losing it to a surly boards-bookie. But there are other reasons to prefer Tote pool betting at the Festival.

Check out with-profits, too

IT HAS been a good week for shares. Most investors have see the value of portfolios grow as the FTSE-100 index of the UK's top companies rose to record levels.

Personal Finance: Roller-coaster ride to riches

Spread betting is a high-risk gamble that lets you punt on anything from the predicted value of the euro to the number of times Gordon Brown sips a drink during his Budget speech. Get it right and you could make a fortune.

Racing: Neltegrity dies moments after win

NELTEGRITY collapsed and died when walking back in front of the stands after winning at Worcester yesterday. The nine-year-old, trained by Pam Sly, beat Handy Lass by a length and a quarter to take the Tote Handicap Hurdle.

Tote and Stanley lead race for Coral

THE TOTE and Stanley Leisure, the bookmaker, are neck-and-neck in the race for the Coral betting shops chain being sold off by the leisure group Ladbroke, having tabled rival bids of around pounds 340m each.

Racing: Jackpot builds up

A JACKPOT pool of pounds 500,000 is in prospect at Kempton today after punters found Saturday's results at Newbury too difficult.

Racing: Trifecta pounds 1m offer

TOTE DIRECT has announced a special incentive for punters considering a Trifecta on Saturday's Ayr Gold Cup. The organisation is to guarantee a pounds 100,000 pool for the big race, and if it is won by just one punter, the Tote will pay an extra pounds 1m tax-free.

Racing: It's tough at the Top

TOP CEES, last year's runner-up, is facing "mission impossible" under 9st 3lb in the Tote Cesarewitch next month, according to his trainer Lynda Ramsden. The eight-year-old is on a mark 8lb higher than when he chased home Turnpole in the two-and-a-quarter mile Newmarket handicap last October.

Racing: Abreeze favourite

ABREEZE IS the 14-1 favourite with William Hill and joint favourite with Sheltering Sky with the Tote for the Ayr Gold Cup Handicap, while last year's winner Pasternak is 12-1 favourite with William Hill for the Cambridgeshire Handicap at Newmarket.

Personal finance: At last: a breed of oik that knows how to behave

A product with a funny name looks set to dominate the investment market.

Racing: Charm lures punters

A HEFTY gamble developed yesterday on an unraced filly by the name of Crystal Charm from the Manton yard of Peter Chapple-Hyam. Apparently set to make her racecourse debut in the Lowther Stakes at York next week, her price for next year's 1000 Guineas has been cut to 16-1 with William Hill and Coral and to 20-1 with the Tote.

Racing: Ascot's new audience

ASCOT'S progress towards the Millennium has gathered pace with the news that the Berkshire course has wangled four more weekend days' racing for its 1999 programme. Those in charge have sacrificed midweek meetings for two new Saturdays and two new Sundays; in other words, they wish to stage the entertainment at a time when most people can go rather than when they cannot.

Racing: Tote punters get bottom draw

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.

WORLD CUP: SPREAD BETTING

THE COMPANIES may nick a point here and there but in the first week of the competition there was one constant - no one was piling in to back England.

Football: World Cup spread betting

AS HAS been well documented the expected blitz of cautions and sending offs has not materialised. Even though tackles are flying in occasions it seems the referees have set a standard but not, as it used to be, with cards but without them. That makes a buy on the first yellow card in Scotland's game against Norway this afternoon - IG quote 24-27 minutes - a tasty proposition.
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