Win could be dire for bookies

Gary Toal
Gary Toal

The head of a major bookmaking business has described AP McCoy as a “gentleman”.

However, for business reasons he will be hoping that he does not win Saturday’s Grand National.

Gary Toal, managing director of the Toals betting group, spoke to the News Letter at the firm’s gigantic new High Street shop in Belfast on Friday afternoon, as he prepared for what was the busiest day of the year.

Mr Toal said: “The customers go for Tony, the local man who’s done so much for national hunt horseracing in Northern Ireland. You can’t fault him.

“Because everybody is talking about Tony possibly retiring tomorrow, there may even be more interest than normal.”

With such a large proportion of bettors expected to favour the Moneyglass man, Mr Toal said: “If Tony wins, it’s a very bad day for Toals bookmakers.”

He added he would not begrudge anyone their victory, and added that the picture would be much the same across all bookmakers.

At around 2pm yesterday, when he was speaking to the News Letter, the odds on AP McCoy were sitting at 7-1.

Even if he is placed in the top five, they could end up losing out.

Asked how much could be lost if AP McCoy wins, he said: “How long is a piece of string? It’s really hard to quantify at this stage. It would be a significant loser.”

Mr Toal – who is the third generation of his bookmaking family – has personally met Mr McCoy before.

“Very briefly,” he said, “I just found Tony to be... what the word? A gentleman. He’s polite. He’s got time for everybody.

“He’d never say no to an autograph, and he’d always shake your hand.”