UK bookmakers have fallen back in love with racing’s Cheltenham Festival (14-17 March), following a week of bookmaker friendly results.
Wrapping up Cheltenham 2017, bookmakers en masse would label this year’s festival as ‘the best ever’ which will likely break records once industry takings are fully audited.
On Friday, the industry avoided a £20 million payout as 7-1 outsider Sizing John won the Timico Gold Cup. Looking to recoup losses, eager punters had heavily backed Djakadam, Native River, and Cue Card for Gold Cup glory, but bookmaker prayers were answered by Mrs J Harrington trained Sizing John.
“Sizing John has saved us from an astronomical payout, after punters latched onto the front three in the betting,” said Ladbrokes’ Nicola McGeady.
Further Festival highlights would see ‘banker stud’ Douvan finish seventh on Wednesday’s ‘Queen Mother Champion Chase’, pulverising countless punter ‘festival accumulators’.
The importance of a ‘good Cheltenham week’ has not been understated by industry stakeholders, following a rough end to 2016 as bookmakers’ were hit with multi-million losses during English football’s Christmas period.
Furthermore, UK bookmakers break a two-year streak of multi-million £ festival losses. Last year the industry was hit for £60 million as punters cashed in on a number of race favourites.
Industry analysts had earmarked the 2017 Cheltenham Festival as the first ‘acid test’ for a much changed UK betting industry which has seen the creation of giant enterprises through sector M&A and consolidation.
The positive earnings of Cheltenham 2017 will please the investors of new FTSE plc’s Paddy Power Betfair, GVC Holdings and Ladbrokes Coral as the companies begin their first full-year in combined operations.