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Wednesday, December 29, 2004


Overall it's been a pretty good year for the bookies, but as usual there are always a couple of races where the punters definitely had the upper hand, and this year was no exception.

Both Flat and jumps codes saw the plunges but the jumps seemed kinder to the bookies (just!) with only three of the biggest proving fruitful for the punters.

Here are the top five Flat and top five NH gambles of the year, according to William Hill:


Exponential: 16th August, Nottingham (won)
A normal Monday in the office turned in to carnage as Stuart William's Exponential was the subject of a massive on course gamble that saw his 100-1 odds plummet to 8-1. Despite quick reactions from the on and off course traders once the plunge became apparent, the damage was already done and when Exponential duly hacked up estimates reckon he took out over £1/2 million industry wide.

Lafi : Wokingham, 19th June, Royal Ascot (won)
Sprint king Dandy Nicholls should never be under estimated in the big handicaps and after Lafi was priced up as a 20-1 shot in May when the ante-post book opened, a gamble in the first week of June gradually saw his price dissolve down to be the 10-1 favourite. He stayed around 9-1 up until the day of the race when the gamble was continued and he won easily by 1 1/2 lengths as the 6-1 favourite. Industry estimates for the combined ante-post and day of race gambled place punters winning at around £1.8 million.

Attraction : 1,000 Guineas, 2nd May, Newmarket (won)
Queen Mary and Cherry Hinton winner Attraction was always going to be a lively contender for the 1,000 Guineas on her two-year-old form and, despite her ungainly appearance, she was the apple of the punters eyes in the spring. Priced up at 10-1 ante-post, a gamble in early April saw her cut to 7-1 and by the end of the month she was 11-2 second favourite. Support for the Fallon Stoute team with Red Bloom - the Guineas favourite- helped keep the book afloat, but there is no denying that Attraction left the bookies wounded as she stayed on to win by 1/2 length. (Estimate for the industry payout is for £1million)

Mephisto: Ebor, 18th August, York (won)
Priced up at 14-1 in July, Mephisto notched up a treble by the end of the month with two big handicap wins and was slashed to 6-1. At one point as Luca Cumanis charge was a short as 9-2 and although support then wained, Mephisto still rallied back in the last few strides to win the Ebor at 6-1 and those with double figure odds on their slips were duly rewarded. (Estimate for the industry payout is for £1.5 million)

and the one that got away.......

Promotion: Wolverton Stakes, 18th June, Royal Ascot (second)
The Queen's horse Promotion was just another example of the power of Fallon and Stoute when it comes to the punters as a massive on course gamble saw the stalls open with Promotion as the 2-1 favourite. But it didn't all go Promotion's way as few had reckoned on the chances of Red Fort, who turned the race in to a procession winning from Promotion by a massive 8 lengths. All the bookies heaved a sigh of relief, confessing it would have been a 'terrible' result if the Queen's horse had won with potential payouts in the region of £2 million.


Brave Inca: Supreme Novices Hurdle, 16th March, Cheltenham (won)
Despite being a 33-1 chance for the Supreme Novices Hurdle, Brave Inca notched up his fifth win in a row at the start of February and his price tag was reduced to 14-1 within a week. Continuous support meant Colm Murphy's charge was 10-1 by the start of March and 9-2 second favourite by Festival week and he hung on by a neck to take the prize at 7-2 favourite, accompanied by a big Irish roar from the Cheltenham crowd and a payout of well approaching £1.5 million

Sporazene: County Hurdle, 18th March, Cheltenham (won)
Both on and off course money contributed to the gamble on Paul Nicholl's Sporazene, the 16-1 offered in early March was gradually nibbled at until he stood at 12-1 by Festival week, and at 10-1 on the day of the race. The handicap weights were compressed by Rigmarole's declaration then withdrawal and Cheltenham goers were convinced of a plot and backed Sporazene to win at 7-1 costing bookies over a £1 million.

Silver Birch, The Welsh National, 28th December, Chepstow (won)
Silver Birch staked his claims for the Welsh National with a convincing win in the Becher Chase and was priced up at 11-1 behind Hennessy winner Celestial Gold. The week before Christmas saw a couple of leading contenders unlikely to take their chances and the punters ploughed in to Silver Birch, leaving him the 5-1 second favourite. Support continued to pour in on the day and he won at 10-3 favourite, with punters taking up to an estimated £1 million industry wide with them.

Rooster Booster: Champion Hurdle, 16th March Cheltenham (second)
The 2003 Champion Hurdler has a strong legion of fans so despite a few defeats through the year it was not much of a surprise to see support for him in this years renewal. Rooster Booster was the 4-1 favourite to regain his title at the start of the season, and punters weren't swayed by defeats in the Bula and the Christmas Hurdle. A win in January and a short-head second under a big weight at Newbury only boosted confidence in the Rooster, and by Festival week he was the 6-4 market leader only to find Irish raider Hardy Eustace too good on the day. Bookies sighed in relief at what could have been the biggest payout of the Festival and anything up to £2 million.

Clan Royal, The Grand National, 3rd April, Aintree (second)
With £200 million pounds gambled industry wide on the day of worlds greatest race, some gambles are easily swallowed up but Clan Royal defeat was still a relief to the layers. This Aintree specialist already had the Topham and the Becher Chase under his belt to be a 25-1 shot at Christmas time and, despite no run between November and April, the money kept pouring in until he started the race as the 10-1 co-favourite. Estimates suggest the punters would have taken out over £25 million pounds in winnings on the National alone had Clan Royal prevailed.

Really 'Lucky' Bets

As well as the big gambles a few punters got really lucky with their multiple bets and it can only take one big priced selection to make a few dreams come true.........

One Hills customer in South West Scotland paid for the next few Christmases with a huge win on the 20th December, his £2 E/W Lucky 15 (stake £60) totted up to £141,191.60. Not only did all his four horses win, but he managed to put Blue Bajan in the 4.00 at Wolverhampton in there - a 40-1 winner!

Another punter from West Yorkshire staked just £1.50 total on his multiple bet in October, but with all his horses winning at double figure odds, including a 20-1 shot and a massive 50-1 winner, he scooped £27,364.37

Another chap, this time from South Yorkshire, got his 2004 off to a good start, winning nearly £75,000 on a bet that cost him less than a fiver! Not only did he also have four double figure odds winners, but he was doubly lucky as the William Hill shop where he placed his bet had a special promotion on and instead of getting Hills' usual 10% bonus for all four winners, he got 15% added on to his winnings!


Kaolino looks the pick in the Mazrat Al Ruwayyah

Kaolino, winner of the 2004 Dubai Kahayla Classic (Gr.I) on Dubai World Cup day, looks the pick of the field in the 1,600 metre Mazrat Al Ruwayyah (Gr.II) for Purebred Arabians at Nad Al Sheba on Thursday.

Trained by Gillian Duffield and the mount of Willie Supple, Kaolino, is looking for a repeat win in the Mazrat Al Ruwayyah which he won by a length and three quarter a year ago.

On that occasion Kaolino, a winner of four of his six races last season, beat two of the challengers he will face on Thursday, the Mazin Al Kurdi-trained Velte and Van Nistelrooy.

Velte, the mount of Richard Mullen, has been out four times this season and was an easy distance winner at Abu Dhabi four days ago and should be able to challenge Kaolino.

Van Nistelrooy, with Ted Durcan in the saddle, was beaten only a length in the National Day Cup (Gr.I) over Thursday's distance and should have definite place claims.

Racing begins at 7.00pm with the 1,400 metre Sas Al Nakhil Thoroughbred Maiden in which the Mike de Kock-trained Tropical Snow, the mount of Stanley Chin, can claim her first win after finishing third here on her UAE debut over 1,200 metres in early December.

Others in with a chance are the Al Kurdi-trained pair Clasp, a well-bred son of Singspiel, who was sixth in his UAE debut, and Burgundian, the Durcan-partnered son of Red Ransom who was one place ahead of Clasp on his UAE debut.

Attlee, a neck winner at Nad Al Sheba a fortnight ago, has a chance of repeating his victory in the second race, the Khor Fakan Handicap over 1,500 metres. Trained by Al Kurdi and ridden by Mullen, Attlee has had three runs in the current season and looks to have found his form.

Likely challengers to Attlee come in the form of the Doug Watson-trained Janadel, the mount of Patrick Dobbs, and Musabah Al Muhairi's Sylvanite, who was runner-up on his last Nad Al Sheba outing.

Ali Rashid Al Raihe can lift the third race of the evening, the 1,200 metres Ain Khat Thoroughbred Handicap, with the course and distance winner Waajeb. The son of Silver Deputy, who will be ridden by Dean Mernagh, has won all three of his outings this season, all at Nad Al Sheba.

Waajeb's course and distance win came on October 28th when he was ridden out to beat Secret Plot by a length and three quarters. Al Kurdi's Hazelhatch, who was runner-up to stable mate Prince of Denmark a week ago, has definite place claims.

Dhruba Selvaratnam and Pat Smullen have a chance with Walmooh, winner of the National Day Cup prep race in November, in the Masfoot Handicap for Thoroughbreds over 1,400 metres. Walmooh's latest runs include a fourth in the Listed National Day Cup and a third in Sunday's HH The President Cup (Listed).

The Al Kurdi-trained pair of Meshty and Prince of Denmark can fill the minor placings.

Watson, who is leading the championship table by eight winners, can lift the final race of the evening, the Falaj Al Mualla Handicap over 1,800 metres with the Supple-partnered Mawwal, a very easy winner over 1,600 metres at Nad Al Sheba 12 days ago.

For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink Archive

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