Steve Whiteley – One in a Million (or 1.5M!)

Steve Whiteley - One in a Million (or 1.5M!)

Many dyed-in-the-wool punters spend hours poring over the formbook in an effort to win a life-changing sum of money but, ironically, the punter who won the largest winning dividend in the history of the Tote Jackpot was, by his own admission, ‘not a horse racing man’. The punter in question was, in fact, Steve Whiteley, a 61-year-old heating engineer from North Tawton, North Devon, who was not a regular racegoer and attended a meeting at Exeter Racecourse, in March 2011, as part of a free promotion.

Having scrapped his original, permed Tote Jackpot entry, Whiteley settled, instead, for a single line entry, costing just £2. Nevertheless, he correctly predicted the first four winners – Semi Colon at 2/1, Black Phantom at 12/1, Ammunition at 16/1 and Mr. Bennett at 16/1 – and, by that stage, just seven entries remained. His fifth selection, Lundy Sky, at 5/1, also won at the expense of odds-on favourite Glitzy D’Ocala leaving his the only ticket remaining in the Tote Jackpot.

His sixth, and final, selection, Lupita, was on a losing run of twenty-eight and was ridden by Jessica Lodge, an amateur rider who had yet to ride a winner under National Hunt rules. Whiteley said afterwards that ‘Lodge is just a name that sticks in my head’. Perhaps understandably, Lupita was sent off 12/1 joint-seventh choice of the thirteen runners, but belied those odds by keeping on gamely to lead inside the last hundred yards and lift the spoils by three-quarters of a length. In so doing, the seven-year-old won an incredulous Whiteley £1,445,671.

Dettori Multiples

Dettori Multiples Lanfranco ‘Frankie’ Dettori earned a reputation as the punters’ friend when, way back in 1996, he went through the card at the Festival of British Racing at Ascot and cost the bookmaking industry, as a whole, in excess of £40 million. The popular Italian jockey hasn’t achieved anything of quite the same magnitude since but, at Royal Ascot in 2019, had the bookmakers running for cover once again.

Having ridden a double on the Wednesday, Dettori proceeded to ride the first four winners on the Thursday and only narrowly missed out on a five-timer when Turgenev – backed from an early price of 12/1 to 7/2 favourite – was worn down and headed in the final fifty yards of the Britannia Stakes. However, in a move that Ben Keith, owner of Star Sports, later described as ‘utterly pathetic’, Bet365 and Sky Bet subsequently ‘knocked back’ multiple bets on horses ridden by Dettori on the final two days of the Royal Meeting.

Bet365 refused some four-fold and all five-fold accumulators on both Friday and Saturday, while Sky Bet refused any multiple bet that included Dettori’s three longest-priced mounts on Saturday. Matt Bisogno, outgoing chair of the Horseracing Bettors Forum, speculated that bookmakers were treating multiple bets on Dettori as a ‘related contigency’, but Keith was much stronger in his condemnation of the action, suggesting that ‘Joe Coral, William Hill and Cyril Stein must have been turning in their graves when the story came out.’ In any event, Dettori spared the blushes of Bet365 and Sky Bet, by riding just a single winner, Advertise, on Friday and Saturday.

Two Goals or More

Two Goals or More Far and away the most popular and straightforward football betting market is the pre-match three-way, or 1-X-2, market, in which punters are required to predict a home win, away win or draw over 90 minutes plus stoppage time. However, the match result market is just one of a plethora of football betting markets, many of which can yield a profit regardless of the final result.

One such market involves backing a team to score two or more goals in a match and this is the market that was exploited, in audacious style, by an anonymous Sky Bet punter in March, 2019. The unidentified bettor staked £10 on a ten-fold accumulator on teams in League One, League Two and the National League and, eventually, collected £52,323.17 for his efforts.

In League One, his three selections included Blackpool, who scored two goals, but only thanks to Southend United defender Taylor Moore putting through his own goal in the sixth minute of injury time. Home wins for Bradford over Peterborough and Rochdale over Shrewsbury Town were more straightforward, as were those for Cheltenham Town, Colchester and Crawley in League Two. In the National League, three more home wins, for Barrow, Hartlepool and Maidstone, made it nine winning selections out of ten and, although Chesterfield lost at home to Eastleigh, they did so by a scoreline of 2-3, thereby completing the ten-fold.

Dollar Value

Dollar Value Notwithstanding the significant increase in the number of runners that are sent off at triple-figure prices in recent years, in British horse racing winners at odds of 150/1 are still hardly an everyday occurrence. However, one such ‘shock’ winner, The Meter, a once-raced juvenile trained by Mohamed Moubarak, did pop up in a small fillies’ novice stakes race at Chelmsford on the evening of October 25, 2018.

From a betting perspective, The Meter was all the more remarkable for being the first selection of an anonymous Newcastle punter, who placed a permed accumulator bet, known as a ‘Lucky 63’ – which comprises singles, doubles, trebles, four-folds, five-folds and a six-fold – on six selections at the Essex track. He managed to couple his initial 150/1 with Dollar Value at 14/1 and Full Intention at 12/1 before his fourth selection, Rampant Lion, beat only one home in the mile handicap. Nevertheless, his winning streak resumed with It’s Not Unusual at 8/1 in the next race and rounded off with Victoria Drummond at 14/1, for five winners from six selections.

The five-fold alone paid cumulative odds of 3,975,074/1 and, for a modest total stake of £6.30, the bet, which was placed in a Coral betting shop in Throckley, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, returned a mammoth £544,767.90. Coral spokesman David Stevens, speaking before the unidentified punter had returned to the shop to collect his winnings, hailed the selection of long-priced winners as ‘one of the most spectacular winning bets we have ever seen’.

Lady Luck at Leysdown-on-Sea

Lady Luck at Leysdown-on-Sea Traditionally, football has been thought of as a male preserve, as has gambling as a leisure activity and, at least to some extent, those perceptions continue. Progress towards gender equality, in all walks of life, has been slow, but steady, although gender gaps obviously do persist. However, gambling, especially gambling on football, which has introduced a new generation to betting, is freely accessible to men and women.

A case in point is that of an unidentified housewife who, in November, 2017, staked £1 on a 12-fold accumulator on weekend football matches at a William Hill betting shop in Leysdown-on-Sea on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent. Apparently, the woman in question had been placing a similar bet every weekend for the previous six years, following in the footsteps of her husband, who had been doing so for the previous forty years, without much success. Her selections reportedly required no skill, but only one of them was odds-on; highlights included Burnley to beat Southampton at 4/1, Reading to beat Derby at 16/5 and Burton Albion to beat Millwall at 10/3. All told, her 12-fold returned £574.278.41 for a £1 stake.

Betting shop employee Carli Faulkner, who posed for publicity photographs with the winning betting slip, praised the win, which was, far and away, the largest payout she had ever experienced, as ‘real girl power’. William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams added, ‘‘In my 15 years in the business working for William Hill I have never encountered a bigger football win by a female punter for just a quid.’