GBI RACING

Punters take firm control in betting battle at Cheltenham

It was a day for the punters over bookmakers on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival

Bookmakers were left running for cover for the second day running at the Cheltenham Festival, following reported industry losses of £50 million.

After being hit for six on Wednesday thanks to victories for the likes of Festival favourites Altior and Tiger Roll, Thursday proved to be another day to forget for layers.

Punters enjoyed the perfect start with favourites Defi Du Seuil (3-1) in the JLT Novices’ Chase and Sire Du Berlais (4-1) in the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle  both obliging, putting bookmakers on the back foot.

Frodon (9-2) and Bryony Frost opened bookmakers’ wounds even further with a tenacious success in the Ryanair Chase, before Paisley Park (11-8) gave favourite-backers more to cheer in the Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle.

Despite victory for 50-1 shot Eglantine Du Seuil in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle easing some of the pain for the layers in the penultimate event, by then the damage had been done.

Dave Stevens, spokesman for Coral, said: “We thought Wednesday was bad, when favourites won the last four races, but that seemed like a good day at the office compared to this afternoon, with estimated losses across the industry in the region of £50m.

“Defi Du Seuil and Sire Du Berlais kept the winning run for favourites going in the opening two races, before the always-popular Bryony Frost gained her first winner of the meeting on Frodon.

“That set the scene for Paisley Park’s victory in the Stayers’ Hurdle, before Siruh Du Lac and Lizzie Kelly got in on the act, and while we needed the shock 50-1 win of Eglantine Du Seuil in the sixth race, by then the damage was done on a day we’d like to forget, but will find it hard to!”

Ladbrokes fear it will be another day that favours punters on Friday with the Joseph O’Brien-trained Irish ‘banker’ Sir Erec expected to get them up an running right at the start in the JCB Triumph Hurdle.

The firm’s Nicola McGeady said: “Today has been one of the worst days we’ve ever encountered at the Cheltenham Festival.

“Tiger Roll’s win on Wednesday was the start of an incredible winning streak for punters.

“We are bracing ourselves for further pain tomorrow, with Sir Erec assuming the role of Irish ‘banker’ in the first.”

Echoing similar thoughts were Paddy Power who expect more carnage to head their way on the final day of the meeting.

Spokesman Paul Binfield said: “The third day has been an absolute bloodbath and punters are well up.

“Epatante getting beat just about saved us, but we’re going to struggle to even draw level tomorrow.”

William Hill pointed to the victories gained by Frost and Kelly as hitting them hardest of all.

Rupert Adams, spokesman for William Hill, said: “It all started on day one when Rachael Blackmore delivered at 5-1 and today we have seen a double with both Bryony Frost and Lizzie Kelly delivering at 9-2.

“These three were very popular choices and we have been hit very hard by what is a 180-1 treble.”

The placepot dividend to a £1 stake paid just £2,439.20, despite the three places in the final leg return starting prices of 50-1, 66-1 and 40-1.

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