Cheltenham Festival Betting News

Tuesday 15th - Friday 18th March 2016

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Bookies take £60m bashing in epic week at Cheltenham

By HENRY DEEDE FOR THE DAILY MAIL

Bookmakers were left reeling on the final day of Cheltenham with some of the betting industry’s leading names describing it as ‘the worst Festival ever’.

Despite breathing a sigh of relief at the Chancellor’s decision not impose taxes in Wednesday’s Budget, bookies were nursing estimated Cheltenham losses of £60million as punters backed winners in unprecedented numbers all week.

Don Cossack won the Gold Cup
© Caroline Norris
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There was no respite on Friday with three race favourites winning, including the much-fancied Don Cossack in the Gold Cup.

For an industry already having to contend with the introduction of a 15 per cent levy on online profits, it was the worst possible outcome.

Ciaran O’Brien at William Hill (down 5.7p to 373.9p) said the industry was ‘bloodied, battered and bruised’.

David Williams of Ladbrokes (down 1.8p to 120p) said: ‘Across the industry the bookies have lost tens of millions in what will be remembered as the Year of the Punter. We can’t get out of Cheltenham fast enough.’

Mark Pearson from Betfred said: ‘It’s carnage out there. I’ve never known anything like it.’

It was a more enjoyable week for Rich Ricci, the flamboyant former right-hand man of ex-Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond, who saw five of his horses finish first past the post, netting prize money of more than £600,000.

Also celebrating was the racecourse’s owner, The Jockey Club, which saw more than 260,000 racegoers flood through Cheltenham’s gates, up from 248,000 from the previous year.