Sports betting

Weekend Review: Gabriel the angel for Gunners as punters peg back bookies

Manchester United slump to defeat at Villa while baseball’s Houston Astros make ‘Mattress Mack’ $75m richer

It was goals galore in the penultimate Premier League weekend before the World Cup in what was a mixed bag for the bookies.

In the standout result, Aston Villa (9/4) trounced Manchester United 3-1 at Villa Park as new manager Unai Emery got off to a flying start in claret and blue.

Goals from Leon Bailey, Lucas Dinge and Jacob Ramsey gave the Villains a stunning victory as United were brought back down to planet Earth after a run of good form.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Arsenal (13/8) continued their march for the title with a tight 1-0 win over a disappointing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in a lapped up low-scoring game for the traders.

Gabriel’s header returned the Gunners to the Premier League apex to set off jubilant scenes in the away end in west London.

Over in north London, a Mo Salah double gave Liverpool (11/10) all three points against a lacklustre Spurs in another win for the bookies.

Kindred Group’s Ali Gill said: “Manchester United’s poor defeat to Villa was a huge result for the book. We also managed profit from Spurs’ defeat to a struggling Liverpool and the low-scoring affair in the London derby between Chelsea and Arsenal.”

However, while Sunday was welcomed with open arms by the layers, Saturday proved to be the day for the punters after a flurry of goals and favourites secured all three points.

Manchester City (1/8) needed an Erling Haaland stoppage time penalty to win 2-1 against a resilient Fulham side, while wins for Brighton (6/5) and Leicester (2/1) were also cheered by the bettors.

Bet365’s Steve Freeth said: “A small bit of respite on Sunday but we’ve taken a bit of a hammering this week with punters starting on the front foot thanks to a punter-friendly set of results in the Champions League and that continued into Saturday.

“We ended up paying out on both Bournemouth and Leeds thanks to the 2 Goals Ahead Early Payout offer, Brighton’s late winner at Wolves was cheered by punters, and then we had you-know-who scoring an injury time winner at the Etihad.

“The fightback began on Sunday with Arsenal going off favourites at Stamford Bridge and nicking it by a single goal and Aston Villa, who usually roll over and have their bellies tickled by United at Villa Park, managing to beat the Red Devils for the first time since 1995,” he added.

Elsewhere, in horseracing, Flightline proved why the four-year-old was regarded as the world’s greatest racehorse with a commanding win in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The favourite went off at 4/9 and finished a whopping eight-and-a-quarter-lengths clear of runner-up Olympiad in Kentucky.

Trainer John Sadler said: “A great win today. He just ran beautiful; just like we thought he could. It’s wonderful when it all works out. That’s a very good horse that was second. This is one of the greatest horses of all time.”

Touching on Flightline’s success, Gill said: “The Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic stole the show over the weekend’s racing, with the world’s highest-rated horse Flightline delivering once again when it mattered, taking what turned out to be his final race before retirement both comfortably and impressively at a short enough 4/9.

“Some punters had tried to find a way to get him beat, but he obviously wasn’t without plenty of support even at the price, and the result went just about the way of the punters,” he added.

On this side of the pond, 9/4 favourite Frodon was a popular winner of the Badger Beer Handicap Chase over three miles at Wincanton. Later on the card at the Somerset track, the well-backed Knappers Hill (11/8 joint-favourite) kept on strongly from Sceau Royal in the Grade 2 Unibet Elite Hurdle.

Meanwhile, 7/2-shot Envoi Allen prevailed over in Ireland in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal, beating Kemboy in second and Conflated in third.

Returning to the US, the biggest story over the weekend was Jim ‘Mattress Mack’ McIngvale netting $75m from several operators after the Houston Astros won the World Series.

The Texan has hit headlines for his stunning win, which included a $30m payout from Caesars and $6.3m from Unibet.

McIngvale also lumped on with Betfred to land $5m from the bookie. Betfred’s Alan Firkins delved into the story for EGR. Firkins said: “Legendary Texas-based punter Jim ‘Mattress Mack’ McIngvale placed a bet of $1m at 5/1 on the Houston Astros winning baseball’s World Series a few months back – and they did just that on Saturday night, wrapping up the Fall Classic by four games to two.

“In well over 50 years in the business, Jim’s $5m profit is the biggest sports bet Betfred owner and co-founder Fred Done has ever paid out, and Fred recorded a special video message to congratulate the intrepid 71-year-old furniture store owner.”

Reflecting on the McIngvale story, Regulus Partners said: “James McIngvale’s $75m US baseball betting win this weekend on $10m of bets on the Houston Astros to win the 2022 World Series has made international news. Inevitably and quite reasonably, bookmakers are using the material financial hit to generate as much publicity as possible.”

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