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York favourite to host 2005 Royal meeting.

CHELTENHAM may feel its odds of staging a relocated Royal Ascot in 2005 are in "single figures", but the bookies seem to think the application is more a case of pie in the sky if latest odds are anything to go by.

Ladbrokes opened their book yesterday on the race to be hosts, should another venue be needed, and make Cheltenham a 10-1 shot. Paddy Power are even less convinced, going 25-1 about a Royal fixture at Prestbury Park. York is long odds-on favourite with both firms.

The Royal meeting may be forced to change venue if redevelopment plans hinder Ascot's ability to stage the meeting in 2005.

Ladbrokes make York 1-2, with Newmarket 3-1 second best. Newbury is a 7-1 shot to step into the breach, while Folkestone, whose name has yet to be mentioned as a

candidate, is quoted at

1,000-1.

Ladbrokes spokesman Balthazar Fabricius said: "I was unsure whether York could stage the Ascot Gold Cup and the Queen Alexandra Stakes, both over further than two miles, but William Derby [clerk of the course] plans to upgrade the track's run-off area to meet the required conditions."

ROYAL MEETING 2005

Ladbrokes: 1-2 York, 3 Newmarket,

7 Newbury, 10 Cheltenham, 1,000 Folkestone.

Paddy Power: 1-3 York, 3 Newbury,

6 Newmarket, 25 Cheltenham.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 28, 2003
Words:215
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