Sports betting

Bookmakers avoid catastrophe as Frankie Dettori fails in bid for historic six-fold

GVC dodges “worst liabilities ever seen” on a crazy day at Royal Ascot

Bookmakers “dodged a massive bullet” on Thursday as Frankie Dettori rode the first four winners of the day at Royal Ascot and traded at 1/3 in the run in the fifth before coming up short.

GVC’s racing trading director James Knight said Dettori’s mount in the fifth race, Turgenev, was the biggest liability the firm had ever seen on a single horse.

“That getting beaten was the biggest swing we had seen,” knight said. “Clearly if that had won then the number on [Dettori’s sixth ride] Questionnaire would have been completely unprecedented and we are talking an order of magnitude that was several times larger than Annie Power back in 2015.”

All told, however, the P&L on the day “wasn’t too bad” for the firm.

“It’s an odd phenomenon,” Knight said. “Five would have been a disaster but if you think about it, that’s because Turgenev was magnifying those liabilities by 10x.”

William Hill also managed to reach roughly break-even despite staring down the barrel at one point.

“I got an email from the trading room after the fourth saying ‘don’t bother coming into work if the last two win,” Hills’ Rupert Adams said.

“Turgenev was backed from 14-1 into 7-2 and when he hit the front Ascot was going berserk,” Adams said. “When he was collared on the line the only people in the place cheering were me and another bookie I was with.

“We’re a £100m business these days rather than a £250m business, and really bad day genuinely knocks us on the chin now.

“We clearly wouldn’t have gone bust but a smaller operators might well have done. We would have probably had to put out a profit warning. But as it is, we made tiny loss on the day and enjoyed a very good Tuesday and Wednesday, so its been a good Ascot so far.”

As for day four of the Royal Ascot meeting, punters are reported to be banking on lightening striking twice, with bet365 already limiting multiples on Dettori horses.

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