On his birthday in February, 2008, Yorkshireman Fred Craggs made history when winning exactly £1,000,000, for a fifty pence stake, from an eight-fold accumulator placed with William Hill. However, just over a decade later, in September, 2018, an anonymous Scottish punter from Leith, Edinburgh, also celebrating his birthday, took the well-known bookmaker to the cleaners again with a similar bet.
The small-stakes punter, believed to be in his fifties, placed a series of permed accumulator bets, each worth just five pence apiece, for a total stake of just £5.35. However, a comfortable three-length win for 14/1 chance Ascot Day in the Grace Harris Racing Handicap at Ffos Las completed an eight-fold accumulator which, in itself, yielded £203,969 for a five pence stake.
Of course, his eighth and final winning selection was critical, but the permed nature of his bet meant that many of the other permutations also returned major sums of money. All told, his total winnings were £682,282.14, believed to be the biggest accumulator payout in Scottish betting history and the third biggest permed accumulator payout in the United Kingdom, as a whole, behind two bets that benefited from the so-called ‘Magnificent Seven’, ridden by Lanfranco ‘Frankie’ Dettori at Ascot 22 years previously.
Rupert Adams, spokesman for William Hill, said, ‘It’s a bet that defies the odds beyond just about anything we’ve ever seen’, adding, ‘We think a number of records have been beaten. It is certainly our biggest ever winner on the horses in Scotland.’
Since the advent of ‘in-play’ or ‘in-running’ betting opportunities, bookmakers have introduced the so-called ‘cash out’ option. According to bookmakers, cash out allows punters in a strong position to profit early – or, in other words, to ‘take their money and run’ – and those in a weak position to salvage some of their initial stake, before the event on which they’ve bet has finished. However, the cash out option benefits the layers insofar as it doubles the bookmakers’ edge, or overround, and balances their books at worse odds than are currently available elsewhere.
The cash out option is commonly associated with accumulators on football matches, with punters keen to avoid the all-too-familiar disappointment of being denied a decent return by the failure of a single selection. However, a football match, like any other sporting event offering ‘live’ betting markets, is subject to volatility in the odds on offer, especially in the closing stages, so cashing out is, at best, a double-edged sword for the punter.
Consider the punter who, in April, 2019, staked £1 on a 15-fold accumulator on football matches in England, Scotland and Spain. All his selections, including six away teams, won and, had he kept his nerve, his bet would have returned £24,641.22. However, the hapless punter pushed the panic button and cashed out early, for £14.32, denying himself £24,626.90 in winnings. Quite why, if he was that keen on winning £14.32, he bothered to place a 15-fold accumulator that took out over £24,000 in the first place is a question that only he can answer. In any event, his exploits serve as a shining example of why bookmakers are so keen to promote the cash out option.
Lanfranco ‘Frankie’ Dettori has experienced his fair share of ups and downs since his halcyon days in the royal-blue silks of Godolphin, but remains one of the most recognisable and popular jockeys in the country. For readers of a certain age, Dettori will always be best remembered for winning all seven races on the highest profile race day of the year, the Festival of British Racing – a precursor to British Champions’ Day – at Ascot in 1996.
Perhaps the person with most cause to remember that fateful day is Darren Yates, nowadays a high-profile racehorse owner but, at the time, a self-employed joiner in Morecambe, Lancashire. Having latched onto the fact that the Godolphin horses wintered in Dubai were some way ahead of their British counterparts, Yates backed four of them – Wall Street, Diffident, Mark Of Esteem and Fatefully – all trained by Saeed Bin Suroor and threw in Dettori’s other three mounts, combining them in a £0.50 Super Heinz, plus an additional £1.00 each-way accumulator, for a total outlay of £62.00.
The rest, as they say, is history. The first three Goldolphin-trained horses won the Cumberland Lodge Stakes, Diadem Stakes and the feature race of the day, the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and, following an easy victory for Decorated Hero, trained by John Gosden, in the Tote Festival Handicap, Fatefully duly completed a four-timer for Sheikh Mohammed’s operation in the Roseberry Rated Stakes. Dettori made all the running on Lochangel, trained by Andrew Balding, in the Seal Stakes and repeated the dose on Fujiyama Crest, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, in the closing Gordon Carter Handicap. His unprecedented seven-timer paid 25,095/1 at starting price, but 235,834/1 at best odds and cost the bookmaking industry an estimated £40 million or more; Darren Yates profited to the tune of £550,823.54.
If your mind hasn’t yet been addled by the bewildering number of bets contained within a Super Heinz Bet, step forward the Big Daddy of them all, the Goliath bet. Based on a rather ambitious eight selections, the bet is broken down into every double, treble, four-folds, five-folds, six-folds, seven-folds and eight-fold, which comes to 247 bets in total. Of course you could just opt for a straight 8 fold, and in all likelihood at astronomical odds, but the all or nothing nature of the bet isn’t for everyone, and a Goliath bet is essentially at the opposite ends of the spectrum with a net cast very widely indeed!