A BETTING bonanza is on the cards for the Grand National in honour of a runner with a Manx name.

Nine-year-old Manx Magic is expected to be among the 40 horses competing in one of the biggest sporting events of the year, held tomorrow (Saturday).

In recognition of the name, bookmakers' chain Joe Jennings is offering a special bet on the horse. The odds on it winning as the Manx Independent went to press were 66-1 on Friday, but Joe Jennings has agreed to pay out over the odds to local punters if Manx Magic romps home.

However, no-one seems to know where the Manx prefix comes from.

The USA-bred horse is trained by renowned trainer Martin Pipe and owned by James Patrick Kennedy.

Mr Pipe, one of the most successful trainers in history, said he had no idea why the name was chosen.

But he confirmed he expects it to be one of his seven entries in the biggest horse race of the year and will be ridden by Gerry Supple.

Manx Magic has won three of his last five races, on each occasion ridden by champion jockey Tony McCoy, who earlier this week broke the record for the most wins in a season.

Mr Pipe, whose training centre is in Somerset, has entered 12 horses for the Grand National and at least seven are expected to be included when the final list of runners is announced.

Although he had no idea where the name came from he said he fancies Manx Magic's chances in the big race.

'He's won lots of races, seven in all, he jumps well and it could be he has a good chance,' he said.

Joe Jennings' area manager Sid Cunningham said he didn't know why the horse has the Manx prefix, but said when it, or other Manx-named horses, appear on the list of runners they usually attract a local flutter.

'We always get a lot of interest from local punters, not from the serious money, but from the Manx people who want to try a few bob,' Sid said. 'It is a good horse so it wouldn't be a complete waste.'

There'll be an extra reason for Island punters to put some money on Manx Magic.

'What we will be doing, because it's Manx Magic and it's a nice name to do with the Island, anyone backing it, if the horse wins, we will pay two points over the return odds, so at a 20-1 price we'll pay out at 22-1, if it starts at 33-1 we'll pay 35-1,' said Sid.

'It gives the customers a bit of a boost.'

Mr Cunningham added: 'The Grand National is the best day of the year for us and actually becomes a day out for us. We get all sorts of people who are new to betting coming into us. Without a doubt the Manx name will bring people in.'

He also revealed Joe Jennings shops have introduced computerised betting slips for the Grand National, similar to lottery tickets.

It means punters will just have to tick boxes on the slips and all bets should be settled within minutes, cutting the queues.

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