It would be fair to say that Tuesday belonged to the bookies at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival.
Incredibly, only one favourite won during a chaotic opening day of the meeting that was sabotaged somewhat by the rapidly softening ground.
The bookies’ biggest victory came in the Champion Hurdle, where Apple’s Jade and Buveur D’Air failed to get into the frame and Laurina just about scraped into the places. With the heavily-backed trio all struggling, the majority of the firms’ liabilities were covered with ease.
And the good times continued to roll for the sportsbooks when Benie Des Dieux, the odds-on favourite for the Mares’ Hurdle, fell at the last when looking likely to go on to take the honours.
So it was a good news day for punters, but an excellent one for those who invested in the Placepot, with a dividend of roughly £90,000 to a £1 stake. And one Cheltenham regular banked a rather handy £182,567 when his sole ticket copped with just four winners!
The balance was redressed somewhat on Wednesday, and the bookies were roasted with four favourites bolting home including the significantly-backed Altior and Tiger Roll.
Many enjoyed the fruits of a more settled day of racing, with many big accas landing including one from golf star Lee Westwood, who trousered a steady £48,000!
The Place to Be
There can’t have been many occasions when the Tote Placepot totalled £900,000….and only 10.5 lucky lucky units did the damage.
One winner, who has chosen to remain anonymous, was on his annual coach trip to the Festival, and wagered £2 on the Tote – the only time he places a bet each year – via the on-course bookmaker.
He was as staggered as anyone else when Klassical Dream and Duc Des Genievres took the line in first place.
Expectation would have been mounting when Beware the Bear took the Ultima Handicap Chase and Melon placed in the Champion Hurdle.
And when Stormy Ireland finished second in the Mares’ Hurdle, palms were getting sweaty.
“It wasn’t until the second-last race that my friend said ‘you’re still in with a chance,” our intrepid hero said.
When favourite A Plus Tard romped home in the Close Brothers’ Handicap, the punter in question was the proud owner of two of the Placepot’s winning units.
But he had no idea how much he had landed until going to cash his ticket.
“We came in a couple of times after the sixth race to cash it in,” he said. “We thought it might be a couple of hundred quid or something like that but it wasn’t ready, so we went out to bet on the last race.
“We came back in afterwards and handed over the ticket. The lady behind the counter…her face just dropped. I asked her how much and she very discreetly showed us. We still didn’t really believe it.”
An to prove it really was a fantastic day for Placepot backers, one punter won more than £18,000 from a 20p stake!
Westwood Leads the Way on Day to Forget for Bookies
Wednesday was a windy old affair at Cheltenham, but that breeze and the sun helped to dry the ground somewhat.
With good-to-soft going, the favourites had their way…and that was bad news for the bookies.
Altior, Tiger Roll, Band of Outlaws and Envoi Allen all did the business for punters, while the fancied Topofthegame also romped home.
Lee Westwood, a keen punter himself, had that quintet in a Super Heinz along with Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle winner City Island and Killultagh Vic, and those six selections saw the former Ryder Cup ace pocket £48,000 from a £240 stake.