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It’s less than a week until England’s Aintree Racecourse, near Liverpool, opens for three days of competitive racing. Saturday’s main event is the John Smith’s Grand National steeplechase. In a steeplechase, the horses or “chasers” jump over sundry obstacles–fences, water, and open ditches.

The Grand National has a long and storied history, beginning with Lottery’s victory in the inaugural running in 1839 up through Neptune Collonges’ come-from-behind charge to win at the wire in 2012. Red Rum in the 1970s was the only three-time winner of the race.

Today, the Grand National is the world’s preeminent race for chasers. It is run on a 2 1/4 mile flat left-handed course. Normally, 40 horses compete over a 4 ½ mile journey encompassing 30 jumps, and some of the jumps have their own names.

Opening Day of the 2013 Aintree meet is Thursday, April 4, with seven races on the card. The features are the Bowl Chase, the Aintree Hurdle, and the Fox Hunters’ Chase.

Friday is Ladies’ Day with seven more races, including the Melling Chase, the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle, and the Topham Chase.

Grand National Day on Saturday has an exceptional undercard of six races, plus the featured John Smith’s Grand National, with post-time at 4:15 PM. in Liverpool.

Over 150,000 spectators will be attracted to the Aintree meet. Many come time and again for both the racing and the associated social events. The Grand National itself is viewed on television by hundreds of millions of people in about 140 nations. Racing UK carries all of the races, and can be accessed on the Aintree website.

With 40 entries, the odds cover a wide range. For example, for the 2013 race, On His Own is the favorite at about 6/1, whereas Mortimers Cross is at 200/1. The large number of entries in the field, the length of the race, difficult jumps that can be the bane of favorites, and the wide disparity of odds, create plenty of potential for unexpected results.

A legendary example of “anything can happen” occurred in 1967 in a 44-horse field.  In that race, a loose horse impeded almost the entire field at the 23rd jump.  As horses fell and havoc ensued, a 100-1 outsider by the name of Foinavon and his jockey John Buckingham were somehow able to navigate their way through. Though 17 jockeys were able to regroup and pursue Foinavon, he held on to win. The fence where the trouble took place was dubbed, appropriately, the Foinavon Fence.

The Racing Post, a widely read daily digital newspaper, offers a Guide to the Grand National that provides a wealth of information about the race. The online resource covers a potpourri of subjects, such as a history of famous winners and losers of the Grand National and details about the course and famous jumps, as well as podcasts with expert handicappers.

Copyright © 2013 Horse Racing Business


Few horse races have the storied tradition of the Grand National, held at the Aintree Race Course, located seven miles from the center of Liverpool, England. The steeplechase is the most famous race of its kind in the world and its global television audience is in the hundreds of millions from some140 countries.

Opening Day at Aintree, for 2013, is on Thursday, April 4, with Ladies’ Day on April 5, and Grand National Day on April 6. Seven competitive races will be held on each card. The three days of racing, social events, and entertainment draw royalty, celebrities, politicians, and people from all walks of life. Indeed, it is a highlight of the British sporting and social calendar.

The Grand National is a 4 ½ mile marathon over 30 fences, some of which have descriptive and colorful names like Becher’s Brook, Canal Turn, and the Chair. Except for the water jump, all of the fences are covered with spruce, making Aintree unique in British National Hunt racing. The race typically draws a contingent of 40 horses.

The field is sent on its way at approximately 4:15 PM, when the starter releases a tape, prompting the crowd, quiet with anticipation, to erupt into an ovation. By the time the leaders reach the last jump, the contenders are sorted out and the result is often decided in the 465 grueling yards to the finish line.

In 1956, the leader, Devon Loch, collapsed 50 years from the wire and lost a golden chance for racing immortality. The horse (who recovered) was owned by the Queen Mother and ridden by Dick Francis, who later became a bestselling writer of mysteries within a horse racing theme.

Neptune Colognes eked out a win in the 2012 Grand National by the smallest margin in the long history of the race—by a nose over Sunnyhillboy. The grey Neptune Collonges came on in the last yards of the race to catch Sunnyhillboy, literally right at the wire, in a pulsating drive in which the outcome had to be confirmed by a photo. Jockey Katie Walsh rode Seabass to third place, the best showing ever by a female rider in the Grand National.

Neptune Collonges was ridden by Daryl Jacob, trained by Paul Nicholls, and owned by John Hales. Nicholls is the outstanding National Hunt trainer of his era, and has been the leading trainer seven times. He previously trained Kauto Star, one of the very best chasers of all time.

Grand National betting is hugely popular. The bulk of the estimated £500 million wagered at Aintree is placed on the Grand National itself. The field of 40 horses puts a premium on skill and racing luck, which attracts bettors because of the potential payoffs. In fact, the Grand National has proved time and again that anything can happen over 4 ½ miles and 30 fences.

Copyright © 2013 Horse Racing Business


Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Southern District of New York


APRIL 15, 2011

(212) 637-2600

(212) 384-2100


Multi-Billion Dollar Civil Money Laundering And Forfeiture Action Also Filed Internet Domain Names Used By The Poker Companies Seized

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and JANICE FEDARCYK, the Assistant-Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced the unsealing of an Indictment today charging eleven defendants, including the founders of the three largest Internet poker companies doing business in the United States – PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker (the “Poker Companies”)- with bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling offenses. The United States also filed a civil money laundering and in rem forfeiture complaint (the “Civil Complaint”) against the Poker Companies, their assets, and the assets of several payment processors for the Poker Companies. In addition, restraining orders were issued against more than 75 bank accounts utilized by the Poker Companies and their payment processors, and five Internet domain names used by the Poker Companies to host their illegal poker games were seized.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA said: “As charged, these defendants concocted an elaborate criminal fraud scheme, alternately tricking some U.S. banks and effectively bribing others to assure the continued flow of billions in illegal gambling profits. Moreover, as we allege, in their zeal to circumvent the gambling laws, the defendants also engaged in massive money laundering and bank fraud. Foreign firms that choose to operate in the United States are not free to flout the laws they don’t like simply because they can’t bear to be parted from their profits.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge JANICE K. FEDARCYK said: “These defendants, knowing full well that their business with U.S. customers and U.S. banks was illegal, tried to stack the deck. They lied to banks about the true nature of their business. Then, some of the defendants found banks willing toflout the law for a fee. The defendants bet the house that they could continue their scheme, and they lost.”

According to the Indictment and the Civil Complaint unsealed today:

On October 13, 2006, the United States enacted the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (“UIGEA”), making it a federal crime for gambling businesses to “knowingly accept” most forms of payment “in connection with the participation of another person in unlawful Internet gambling.” Despite the passage of UIGEA, the Poker Companies, located offshore, continued operating in the United States. In a press release dated October 16, 2006, Absolute Poker announced that the company would continue its U.S. operations because “the U.S. Congress has no control over” the company’s payment transactions. Because U.S. banks and credit card issuers were largely unwilling to process their payments, the Poker Companies allegedly used fraudulent methods to circumvent federal law and trick these institutions into processing payments on their behalf. For example, defendants ISAI SCHEINBERG and PAUL TATE of PokerStars, RAYMOND BITAR and NELSON BURTNICK of Full Tilt Poker,and SCOTT TOM and BRENT BECKLEY of Absolute Poker, arranged for the money received from U.S. gamblers to be disguised as payments to hundreds of non-existent online merchants purporting to sell merchandise such as jewelry and golf balls. Of the billions of dollars in payment transactions that the Poker Companies tricked U.S. banks into processing, approximately one-third or more of the funds went directly to the Poker Companies as revenue through the “rake” charged to players on almost every poker hand played online. As alleged in the Indictment, to accomplish their fraud, the Poker Companies worked with an array of highly compensated “payment processors” – including defendants RYAN LANG, IRA RUBIN, BRADLEY FRANZEN, and CHAD ELIE – who obtained accounts at U. S. banks for the Poker Companies. The payment processors lied to banks about the nature of the financial transactions they were processing, and covered up those lies, by, among other things, creating phony corporations and websites to disguise payments to the Poker Companies. For example, a PokerStars document from May 2009 acknowledged that they received money from U.S. gamblers through company names that “strongly imply the transaction has nothing to do with PokerStars,” and that PokerStars used whatever company names “the processor can get approved by the bank.”

By late 2009, after U.S. banks and financial institutions detected and shut down multiple fraudulent bank accounts used by the Poker Companies, SCHEINBERG and BITAR developed a new processing strategy that would not involve lying to banks. PokerStars, FullTilt Poker, and their payment processors persuaded the principals of a few small, local banks facing financial difficulties to engage in such processing in return for multi-million dollar investments in the banks. For example, in September 2009, ELIE and others approached defendant JOHN CAMPOS, the Vice Chairman of the Board and part-owner of SunFirst Bank, a small, private bank based in Saint George, Utah, about processing Internet poker transactions. While expressing “trepidations,” CAMPOS allegedly agreed to process gambling transactions in return for a $10 million investment in SunFirst by ELIE and an associate, which would give them a more than 30% ownership stake in the bank. CAMPOS also requested and received a $20,000 “bonus” for his assistance. In an e-mail, one of ELIE’s associates boasted that they had “purchased” SunFirst and that they “were looking to purchase” “a grand total of 3 or 4 banks” to process payments.

The Indictment and Civil Complaint seek at least $3 billion in civil money laundering penalties and forfeiture from the Poker Companies and the defendants. The District Court issued an order restraining approximately 76 bank accounts in 14 countries containing the proceeds of the charged offenses.

Pursuant to a warrant for arrest in rem issued by the U.S. District Court, the United States also seized five Internet domain names used by the Poker Companies to operate their illegal online businesses in the United States.

Defendants CAMPOS and ELIE were arrested this morning in Saint George, Utah and Las Vegas, Nevada, respectively. ELIE will appear later today before a U. S. Magistrate Court Judge in Las Vegas, Nevada. CAMPOS will appear before a U.S. Magistrate Court Judge in Saint George, Utah on April 18, 2011. Defendant FRANZEN is expected to appear for his arraignment on April 19, 2011 in the Southern District of New York. Defendants BITAR SCHEINBERG, BURTNICK, TATE, TOM, BECKLEY, RUBIN and LANG are not presently in the United States and have not yet been arrested. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is working with foreign law enforcement agencies and Interpol to secure the arrest of these defendants and the seizure of criminal proceeds located abroad. BITAR, TOM, RUBIN, BECKLEY, CAMPOS, ELIE, and FRANZEN are U. S. citizens. A chart identifying each defendant, the charges, and the maximum penalties, is attached to this release.

U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA praised the FBI for its outstanding leadership in the investigation, which he noted is ongoing. Mr. BHARARA also thanked Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s New York and New Jersey offices, and the Washington State Gambling Commission, for their assistance in the investigation.

The matters announced today are being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Asset Forfeiture Units. Assistant

U.S. Attorneys ARLO DEVLIN-BROWN and NICOLE FRIEDLANDER are in charge of the criminal case, and Assistant U. S. Attorneys SHARON COHEN LEVIN, MICHAEL LOCKARD and JASON COWLEY are in charge of the civil money laundering and forfeiture actions.

The charges contained in the Indictment and Civil Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

U. S. v. Scheinberg et al. (10 Cr. 336)

Defendant Citizenship Residence Age

ISAI SCHEINBERG Canada; Israel; Isle of Man 64 (est.)

RAYMOND BITAR United States California; Ireland 39

SCOTT TOM United States; Costa Rica 31

BRENT BECKLEY United States; Costa Rica 31

NELSON BURTNICK Canada; Ireland 40

PAUL TATE Isle of Man

RYAN LANG Canada 36

BRADLEY FRANZEN United States, Illinois; Costa Rica 41

IRA RUBIN United States; Costa Rica 52

CHAD ELIE United States, Nevada 31

JOHN CAMPOS United States, Utah 57