Coral sources play down report they have quit race for Tote.
SOURCES close to Gala Coral's efforts to buy the Tote last night played down a report that their bid was now dead in the water.
The owner of the Coral betting chain is believed to be one of five shortlisted bidders able to pore over the detailed information on the financial performance of the Tote.
Shortlisted bidders, though not named, were not announced until earlier this month, casting doubt on why any should choose to drop out at this stage.
However, reports were circulating last night that Betfred's position as favourite to buy the Tote would be strengthened by Gala Coral pulling out of the race.
That prospect was quickly questioned, with one person close to the bid process saying late last night that there was little reason for anyone to withdraw before every last piece of financial data on the Tote business had been properly examined.
Other parties understood to have made the government's shortlist include the Reuben brothers, owners of Northern Racing, Sir Martin Broughton, and a charitable foundation representing Tote management with the backing of the racing industry.
The government has confirmed that half of the net sale proceeds from the Tote sale would be passed to racing. Estimates are that this could amount to pounds 50m.