The bookmakers suffered a late defeat on day three at Cheltenham, despite getting back in the game after a “blinding” fightback started by a surprise defeat for Un De Sceaux.
St Patrick’s Day at the Festival started with the bookmakers an estimated £50 million down from the first two days, and keen to get stuck into the well-backed Terrefort (in to 11/4f from 4/1).
However, they hadn’t accounted for the eventual winner of the JLT, the day’s opening race at 1:30, as explained by bettingexpert racing guru Stephen Harris.
He said: “They got the jolly beaten, but second in Shattered Love was the other runner to attract cash for Gordon Elliot (17/2 into 4/1), and he was roared home by the army of Irish punters who latch onto all the Gigginstown horses.
“Steve Freeth, a spokesman for bet365, reported it to be one of the firm’s worse ever results on racing – a real public gamble across all of our customers.”
The second race of the day was expected to provide “welcome relief for the beleaguered layers”, but once again the two best-backed horses fought it out up the famous Cheltenham hill.
“A driving finish from Delta Work (6/1 from 10/1) saw off Glenloe (9/2f from 13/2),” said Harris. “Once more, the industry was looking down the gun barrel with huge liabilities stacking up in accumulators.”
If the second race was expected to favour the bookmakers, they were braced for a big loss on Un De Sceaux, who was “8/11 with good reason” according to AP McCoy, and widely expected to become the fourth odds-on winner of the week after Footpad, Buveur d’Air and Samcro.
Harris added: “The Ryanair saw one of the Irish bankers in Un de Sceaux backed down to 4/6f, but he had to settle for second to Balko des Flos (8/1) and the bookmakers could celebrate a real result in a race where they could take plenty of money out of the front two (Cue Card 5/1 always popular).
“A public gamble on Sam Spinner gained momentum through the day, from 4/1 into a tight 3/1f before a wide open looking Stayers Hurdle. The bookmakers got a real result when Penhill won at 12s to make it honours even on the day, with 365 reporting it as a blinding result to get back in the game.”
However, just when the bookmaker fightback was gathering pace, a late show from a pair of favourites saw the spoils go to the punters, albeit on a much lesser scale to the previous day.
Harris concluded: “The punters finished strongly with The Storyteller (5/1f) and Laurina (4/7f) in lighter betting races, and it proved to be a fantastic day for the top Irish stables.”
Watch the video below for Harris’ expert analysis and tips for the final day at Cheltenham: