Horseracing: Cheltenham winnings go to Marie Curie charity

Gregory Hughes of Hughes Bookmakers Dungannon pictured as he hands over a cheque for �850 to Pat O'Kane representing Marie Curie Cancer Care. Included in the picture are Kevin Hughes (Head of Sport at the Mid-Ulster Mail & Tyrone Times) and Seamus Donnelly (Sports Reporter). The money is proceeds from the Mid-Ulster Mail & Tyrone Times Cheltenham charity bets.INTT1415-332

Gregory Hughes of Hughes Bookmakers Dungannon pictured as he hands over a cheque for �850 to Pat O'Kane representing Marie Curie Cancer Care. Included in the picture are Kevin Hughes (Head of Sport at the Mid-Ulster Mail & Tyrone Times) and Seamus Donnelly (Sports Reporter). The money is proceeds from the Mid-Ulster Mail & Tyrone Times Cheltenham charity bets.INTT1415-332

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Bookmakers aren’t renowned for enjoying paying out, but the smile on the face of Gregory Hughes was a warm and genuine one as he handed Pat O’Kane a cheque for £850.

Well-known Dungannon man Pat was accepting the money on behalf of Marie Curie Cancer Care and it was the proceeds of the £50 per day charity bet kindly granted by Hughes to the Tyrone Times and Mid-Ulster Mail as part of his annual promotions for the Cheltenham Festival.

On two of the four days of the March racing extravaganza, Seamus Donnelly and Kevin Hughes put their heads together and came up with two winners - The Druids Nephew at 8/1 and Call The Cops at 9/1, thus the winnings of £850, for which O’Kane expressed his sincere gratitude.

Not only that, there might even be a further windfall for the charity because the bookiw who operate two betting shops in both Dungannon and Coalisland, has given us another £50 free bet for the Grand National on Saturday.

“There can’t be a family anywhere which hasn’t been affected by the dreaded disease so this is an especially worthy cause and I am absolutely delighted that to be handing them this cash” stated Hughes, who admitted that the results at Cheltenham didn’t go in the bookies’ favour.

“The results definitely went the way of the punters and things could have been much worse, had Annie Power not fallen at the last hurdle on the opening day as Willie Mullins looked set to complete his fourtimer with the hot favourite. That would have cost us about a quarter of a million pounds” stated Hughes, who predicted in Tyrone Times that it would let the bet down.

“But it was a freak fall, so I’m not claiming a lot of credit for that” added Hughes, who predicts a dream finish for Tony McCoy in the National, with Tyrone Times in-house tipsters afforded another £50 charity bet; see below!