Sports betting

Weekend Review: Industry narrowly escapes huge pay-out on racing gamble

Third runner in big-priced treble fails to win as Tom Brady wins seventh Super Bowl at the ripe old age of 43

Bookmakers breathed a collective sigh of relief on Sunday after a gamble on three horses that would have amounted to a multi-million-pound pay-out across the industry failed to land.

The three horses in question – Fire Away, Blowing Dixie and Gallahers Cross – had been backed the night before, all at long odds, in each-way multiples like trixies and patents with various operators.

With modest stakes and by grouping the selections together in one bet, the gamble was less likely to arouse suspicion in trading rooms.

News of the gamble was posted the next day on Twitter by BetVictor’s head of trading, Chris Poole, who described it in a video clip as “our worst nightmare” as it was impossible to hedge due to the fact the prices on the trio had all crashed.

Later that day, Fire Away, which went off as the even-money favourite, cruised to a 19-length victory at Musselburgh, while Blowing Dixie (SP of 4/6) won by more than two lengths on the all-weather at Southall.

By now, Twitter was abuzz as speculation mounted on the potential cost to the bookies if the third won, while Poole was being interviewed live on ITV Racing from BetVictor’s HQ in Gibraltar.

In the end, Gallahers Cross went off the 4/5 favourite but could only manage fourth in a handicap hurdle at Musselburgh. Those behind the bets would have won a few quid from the doubles as part of their multiple bets, although they narrowly eluded a major payday.

Kindred Group’s Ali Gill said much like the rest of the industry, they “waited with bated breath” before the third race. “The 4/5 shot, who had traded much shorter in the lead up to the race, did us all a huge favour by getting beat to avoid what could have been a hugely expensive quiet Sunday at Musselburgh.”

Rupert Adams of William Hill described it as “an extraordinary punt”. He continued: “In reality, the figures were a lots less than many were suggesting but it would have been a six-figure loss for us,” he revealed.

Over in Ireland, the Dublin Racing Festival was the highlight of the action on the turf this weekend as Kemboy landed the Gold Cup, which marked the 11th time trainer Willie Mullins has tasted victory in the race.

In fact, the champion trainer won nine of the 15 races at the two-day festival, with Monkfish’s impressive 11-length victory in the Flogas Novice Chase a particularly eye-catching performance, as was Energumeme’s win over two miles on Saturday.

It now sets up a mouth-watering clash between Energumeme, which is owned by Brighton chairman and one of the world’s biggest gamblers, Tony Bloom, and Shishkin, in the Arkle Chase at next month’s Cheltenham Festival.

Betfred’s Alan Firkins said: “Energumeme was particularly impressive as he bids to snaffle the Arkle, for which he’s now around a 5/2 chance. Shishkin stands in the way, in what looks like one of the races of the meet.

“Another Leopardstown scorer Chacun Pour Soi is now odds-on for the Champion Chase, and evergreen jockey Dickie Johnson had a masterful 1,068/1 Sandown treble on Saturday that attracted some shrewdie support in multiple.”

Kenny Alexander, the former boss of GVC (now Entain), saw his mare ridden by Rachal Blackmore comfortably take the Irish Champion Hurdle to make it a 10th straight career win.

Meanwhile in the Premier League, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City exorcised their Anfield demons after a 4-1 demolition job of Jurgen Klopp’s stuttering Liverpool side.

Goals from İlkay Gündoğan (two), Raheem Sterling and starlet Phil Foden sent City five points clear at the top of the table, much to the delight of the punters. Gill told EGR City’s victory, as well as wins for Chelsea and Tottenham, went the way of the bettors.

“Bit of a mixed bag in the Premier League this weekend, but one we ultimately shaded in the end. Manchester City’s demolition of Liverpool was a big win for the players as City were the fancied team, as was Chelsea’s defeat of Sheffield United and Tottenham’s win over West Brom.

“Everton’s last-gasp equaliser was exactly what we wanted to see, with draws for West Ham and Leicester, and defeat for Arsenal tipping things our way,” he added.

Betway’s Chad Yeomans echoed Gill’s sentiments by praising Everton’s resolve to earn a 3-3 draw away to Manchester United.

Yeomans said: “Not many predicted a 1-4 score line, although City were well fancied prior to the game. However, there were plenty of draws over the weekend which helped us out, including Everton’s last gasp equaliser at Old Trafford.”

Yeomans went on to detail the shift in outright title odds, which might make miserable reading for Liverpool fans.

He added: “[City] were electric, especially in the second-half and are now 1/20 to win the Premier League this season. Liverpool are now out to 33/1 – the biggest price they’ve been for some time!”

Elsewhere, Tom Brady inspired his Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their second Super Bowl title with a 31-9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Brady threw three touchdown passes as he secured his seventh Super Bowl title at the ripe old age of 43 years and 188 days.

Gill said: “In the Super Bowl, Tom Brady did what Tom Brady does and lead his team to a dominant win against an off-colour Chiefs, another result which was definitely layer friendly, with the Chiefs’ total points haul of nine helping our bottom line hugely as players expected much, much more from the offense.

Adams added: “Super Bowl was an excellent result across the globe, although there were a load of punters who got on Tampa as soon as Brady was announced as they went from 66/1 to 16/1.”

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