They're Off: Two US Banks Fall At The First

National Bank of Commerce trained in Berkeley, Illinois and Bank of Clark County of Vancouver, Washington were first fence fallers in the 2009 Grand US National Banking Steeplechase.

Both banks were closed by regulators on Friday. There were 25 fallers in last years race, up from only three in 2007.

The favourite for this year's race is the heavily backed, Bush trained, Toxic Bank.

Bank of America, trained in Washington by Ben Bernanke is second favourite. A flood of late money for him, $138 billion to be precise, would make this a popular winner as everybody in the US seems to be on him.

Henry Paulson's runner, Citigroup, is also well fancied, but carries a lot of weight for a 197 year old.

Meanwhile the Bernie Madoff trained entry, Ponzi Scheme, was withdrawn under orders, so if you backed him you've lost your money I'm afraid.