Bookmakers staggered back to their Cheltenham hotels barely able to carry their cash after the second day of the Festival saw favourites draw a complete blank.
David Hood, public relations director for William Hill, claimed that across the industry, punters would have lost almost half of the expected £100million turned over on the day’s events.
“If we’d sat down this morning and printed the results off then we couldn’t have done a better job,” he said after seeing the list of winners returned at 17-2, 14-1, 16-1, 11-1, 33-1 and 33-1.
“Punters in the UK and Ireland have left behind the best part of £50million today – as much as the Securitas robbery, only ours is legal!”
Coral public relations director Simon Clare claimed it had been the worst day for punters in history of betting at the Cheltenham Festival.
“It’s hard to say what the best result was because although Denman and Kauto Star getting beaten were brilliant, it was in the bumper that punters were fighting to get out of jail and backing Equus Maximus and Kicks For Free,” he said.
“We literally barely took a penny on the winner and it couldn’t have worked out any better.”
Paddy Power, spokesman for the eponymous Irish bookmakers, was as clear with his celebrations.
“The only bad result was Sky’s The Limit but it would have been pure greed not to let the punters have one,” he said.
“The best win of the day was probably Star de Mohaison’s victory in the Royal & SunAlliance Chase. Back in Front, Our Ben and Commercial Flyer were all bad losers and there was hardly a cent for the winner.”
Among the big bets recorded on course were wagers of £100,000 and £80,000 on Royal & SunAlliance Hurdle runner-up Denman and £100,000 on bumper favourite Equus Maximus, who trailed home 12th for punters trying to fight their way out of trouble.
It wasn’t just a good day for fixed-odds bookmakers, as Totepool also reported a substantial growth in turnover.
Total turnover on the day was £2,563,732, compared to last year’s figure of £2,451,052 – an increase of almost five per cent.
Another bumper placepot pool of £637,491 saw a dividend of £2,062.30 returned to a £1 stake.
“Given the fact that results didn’t go the punters way, it is a very good turnover figure as punters weren’t able to recycle their winnings like they might do usually,” said Totepool spokesman Damian Walker.