Sport 66-1 shot Auroras Encore, left, won the race last year

The number will have to be whittled down before the race in April

Hawkes Point on his chasing debut at Plumpton last month

Bog Warrior raises Irish standard in stayers' title quest

Despite the injury-enforced absence of four-time World Hurdle winner Big Buck's, the marathon crown at the Cheltenham Festival is shaping up as a fascinating contest. The latest to present his credentials for a crack at the vacant title was Bog Warrior, a wide-margin winner at Punchestown on Monday. And, given the rain-sodden conditions, an entirely appropriately named one.

Claire Beale on Advertising: We leave the year 2012 in good shape

Top of the list of ads of the year is one which captures all that was best about our Olympic summer, Channel 4's “Meet The Superhumans” campaign for its Paralympics coverage. The beautiful, moving film deftly turned preconceptions of disability upside down. And there wasn't an ad agency in sight with this one, it was made by Channel 4 in-house.

Sell-offs and writedowns as Betfair gets back to basics

Betfair's new boss set the betting exchange on a new course today, selling off unwanted businesses and throwing the kitchen sink at the accounts with £81 million in writedowns.

Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver voted best placed to save the world from Mayan Prophecy

Brits picked the two actors as most capable of saving humanity in an online poll

Kate Middleton marries in a dress by Sarah Burton

William Hill, Paddy Power taking bets on Kate Middleton pregnancy

Amid the general celebration, bookmakers can feel particularly rosy at news a royal baby is on the way. It seems we'll take any excuse to wager on the sprog of Wills and Kate - and the likes of Paddy Power and William Hill have outdone themselves in touting odds on a range of bizarre possibilities.

Big Buck’s stretches his winning run over hurdles to 18 consecutive races at Newbury on Saturday

Ligeonnaire blazes the trail to Festival for Irish novices

Mullins aims for Arkle Chase with Fairyhouse winner while Zaidpour earns tilt at Big Buck's

White chargers: Al Ferof clears the last under Ruby Walsh to beat Walkon in the Paddy Power Gold Cup

Al Ferof shows promise of youth

Nicholls' next generation suggest they could fill the gap left by Kauto Star and Neptune Collonges

Grands Crus heads the betting for tomorrow’s Gold Cup

Fingal Bay set for explosive start to Cheltenham Open

Though exploits of Kauto Star are unlikely to be matched any time soon, at least it seems his absence from the scene may be cheerfully borne. As the jumpers have gathered momentum there have already been tantalising glimpses of the future from emerging talent such as Cue Card, Silviniaco Conti, Kauto Stone, For Non Stop and Flemenstar. And more frissons are likely during the three-day meeting at Cheltenham that starts today.

Second place for Cappa on his return

Cappa Bleu took a promising first step on the road back to Aintree when second at Carlisle yesterday. In his first appearance since finishing fourth in the John Smith's Grand National, the former champion hunter jumped boldly before closing smoothly on the approach to the home turn as in-form favourite, Across The Bay, kicked 28 lengths clear. But he will have done no harm to his rating, and remained unchanged at a general 25-1 for the National.

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney greets supporters during a campaign rally at the Hy Vee Center in Des Moines, Iowa

Tory minister Iain Duncan Smith hits out at 'appalling demonisation' of Mitt Romney in the UK media

In a break from the usual diplomatic conventions Mr Duncan Smith appeared last night to take sides in the US presidential election by making comments on Mitt Romney's business credentials

Mantel primed to make history with double Man Booker win as she edges ahead of Self

Hilary Mantel is favoured to become the first woman to win the coveted Man Booker Prize for fiction twice, with her historical novel Bring Up the Bodies ahead of Will Self's Umbrella in the bookmakers' rankings.

The Business Matrix: Thursday 30 August 2012

Olympic profits cheer Chime

Paddy Power is a football winner

Paddy Power, the offbeat bookie, yesterday reported surging, half-year profits up 21 per cent to €68.7m (£54.5m), thanks partly to a strong Euro 2012.

You can win at the bookies

One of the facts of gambling is that the longer you bet, the more likely you are to lose. No wonder then that the long-term performance of bookies highlights their strengths.

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Tim Sherwood column

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Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

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