Punter with no win in 70 years hoping to break his duck

Press Association
Britain's oldest punter
Britain's oldest punter

A 104-year-old man believed to be Britain's oldest and "unluckiest" punter has backed AP McCoy to win his last Grand National so they can both "retire gracefully".

George Atkinson met the 19-time champion jockey ahead of Saturday's big race at Aintree as the veteran gambler bids to end a run of seven decades without success.

The centenarian, from Swaffham, Norfolk, has placed bets religiously on the Grand National each year since the 1940s but has never backed a winner.

He has now pinned his hopes on Shutthefrontdoor, ridden by 40-year-old McCoy, who is competing for a record-breaking 20th time in the world famous horse race before he retires this year.

After the pair met at Southwell racecourse in Nottinghamshire, Mr Atkinson said: "How fitting would it be if Tony won his last National in what could well be my last chance of winning too.

"He is a beautiful man. It would be a dream come true. Tony and I could both retire gracefully!"

Mr Atkinson, a widowed father of seven, grandfather and great-grandfather, placed his first ever bet when he was just 12, when his bookmaker grandfather took him to the Epsom Derby.

Believed to be Britain's oldest punter, he has been given a £104 bet - £52 each way - by bookmaker William Hill as he tries to fulfil his dream of a Grand National win.

McCoy, who won the 2010 Grand National on Don't Push It, said: "George was in fantastic form and knows everything there is to know about racing.

"I cannot believe he has never picked a winner of the National and winning it for him would be the icing on the cake."

William Hill is expecting to take more than five million bets on the Grand National this year and accept more than £30 million in wagers.

The bookmaker's spokesman Rupert Adams said: "We all know how hard it can be to pick the winner of the National but it is still quite extraordinary that George has failed in so many attempts.

"We are comfortable in saying that George is almost certainly Britain's oldest punter and definitely the unluckiest!"

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