HORSE RACING: After the Grand National, the Cheltenham Festival is the single biggest racing betting event. Hills are bracing themselves for an estimated £600 million industry turnover.
Britain’s biggest bookies are predicting that a staggering £150 million a day will be wagered industry-wide, on each of the four days of the festival, with another £1million per race staked on-course in cash.
That figure equates to around £24 million per race, for the 26 races, with betting reaching a £40million fever pitch on this year’s epic third ‘War of the Wolds’ rematch between Kauto Star and Denman in Friday’s Gold Cup.
But the bookmakers are treading with some trepidation into this year’s Festival – with a quartet of red hot favourites poised to strike a daily body-blow to profits. Dunguib, Master Minded, Big Buck’s, and Kauto Star are some of the hottest Cheltenham betting propositions for decades, and they line-up on each day of the Festival in unparalleled form. The last three all trained by Champion trainer Paul Nicholls and ridden by the Festival’s leading jockey Ruby Walsh.
William Hill estimate that the betting industry would be rocked to the tune of almost £50million should the four festival bankers oblige, with punters lining-up in each of the UK and Ireland’s 10,000 betting shops to invest in the dream quartet.
David Hood, spokesman for William Hill, said: “Bookies really are starting on the back foot this year.
These are FOUR outstanding chances for punters to get their teeth into – and each one dominates a day of the Festival. We can only hope to get one or more of them beaten, but realistically they look like bankers for the punter and if all four win it will put the bookies on their knees. Punters won’t be able to carry it all home!”