Bookmakers: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly at Cheltenham

The Cheltenham Racing Festival is one of the biggest horse racing events of the year. Jockeys, trainers, owners, bettors and bookmakers alike all look forward to this special week in March.

As we enter the second half of the 2013 Cheltenham Festival we thought it appropriate to take a look at the winners and losers of this year’s meet so far.

Good

As ever when it comes to the major sporting events, this week has been all about the promotions. Be it Paddy Power’s enhanced odds, free bets from just about everyone or some form of money back special, there’s plenty of ways to get better value for your bet.

This year the Cheltenham Festival promotions haven’t just stopped with betting on the races either as online casinos have also got into the act. New players at Betfair Casino get a free £10 bet on Cheltenham while new and existing players can get a random bonus of between £5 and £50 on the Cheltenham scratch card game.

Always keen to get in on the horse racing act is Ladbrokes and their casino is currently running The Final Furlong promotion. This consists of playing in the casino in order to earn points with the top 50 points holders sharing £15,000 at the end of the week.

Bad

It’s been a pretty shoddy week in terms of results for bookmakers so far at Cheltenham. The first day of the festival saw an estimated £20 million being paid out to punters.

This included Paddy Power paying out £3.75 million after Hurricane Fly won the Champion Hurdle being ridden by Ruby Walsh. One Irish punter even managed to take the bookies for more than £1 million after succeeding with a five horse accumulator. Bravo to that man!

Don’t get the violin out for the bookmakers just yet though. While these figures sound like a hell of a lot to you and me, they’re just ripples in the ocean for the larger bookmakers listed above. It’s the smaller bookmakers where these sorts of results can really do the damage. But these occurrences are an occupational hazard and something that most should be equipped to deal with.

Ugly

No we’re not referring to any of the young phillies on show during Ladies Day! Of all those to have had a bad week so far at Cheltenham, none can compare to Coral’s tough few hours yesterday afternoon.

Similarly to pretty much all bookmakers, Coral weren’t exactly delighted to see Sprinter Sacre pass the post in first position. This result saw them pay out a whopping £1 million. Unfortunately for Coral that was just the beginning of their problems.

Just when the bookmaker would have been hoping to recoup some of that £1 million their website crashed due to the large volume of traffic – which probably consisted of people looking to withdraw their winnings.

This website outage continued through the running of their own race – The Coral Cup – leaving the bookmaker pretty red-faced and very out of pocket from the day’s work.

Related to this story