Cheltenham Festival Placepot

Cheltenham Festival Placepot The placepot is not an accumulator in the traditional sense, insofar as it is a pool, or pari-mutuel, bet offered by the Tote, still largely owned by Betfred, for which the dividend is determined not by the starting prices of the horses concerned, but the number of winning tickets. Quite simply, the placepot requires players to select a placed horse in each of six consecutive races, usually the first six, at a single meeting and, like a traditional accumulator, offers the prospect of a large return for a relatively small outlay.

The Cheltenham Festival, held annually in March, features racing that is more competitive than any other meeting of the year, but that did not stop one anonymous punter from winning £182,567.80 for a single £2 bet on the opening day in 2019. The once-a-year punter, enjoying his annual pilgrimage to Prestbury Park, placed his placepot bet, as he has apparently been doing ‘for years’, and made a flying start to the afternoon.

Of course, by definition, the placepot is not just about backing winners, but victories for Klassical Dream, Duc Des Genievres, Beware The Bear in the first three races – in which no favourite was placed – did his prospects no harm. Second-place finishes for Melon and Stormy Ireland in the Champion Hurdle and OLBG Mares’ Hurdle, respectively, kept the dream of a mammoth payout alive and, in the 20-runner Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase, it was left to 5/1 favourite A Plus Tard to make the first four places. Henry De Bromhead’s charge not only did that, but scampered away to win by 16 lengths and the dream had become reality!

Small Stake, Huge Payout

Small Stake, Huge Payout Apparently, ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’ was originally a maxim used to encourage American schoolchildren to do their homework. However, the importance of not giving up too easily was highlighted by an anonymous Coral punter who, in April, 2017, staked £19 on a permed accumulator bet and won £822,972.75 or, in other words, the highest horse racing payout the bookmaking firm has made since it was established in 1926.

The unidentified man, believed to be from Leicester, made five selections at the home of Irish jump racing, Punchestown, in Co. Kildare, and combined them in five £3 four-folds and one £4 five-fold. Das Mooser, about whom he had taken 10/1, set the ball rolling when making all to win the hunter chase, on his debut under National Hunt rules, at half those odds and was followed, in quick succession, by Woodland Opera, at 9/2, in the novice chase and Definite Ruby, at 7/1, in the mares’ handicap chase. Just over an hour later, Bacardys, at 10/1, beat favourite Finian’s Oscar by a short head to win the Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle and, later in the evening, Canardier – backed at 33/1, but sent off at just 8/1 – completed the clean sweep by winning the flat race.

Not that our intrepid punter was aware of any of the goings-on at Punchestown, having headed off for a night out. However, he did eventually check the racing results in the early hours of the following morning and later described his life-changing win as ‘the realisation of a lifetime dream’. Apparently, the man, who is the son of a bookmaker, had been placing similar bets, in the form of trebles and accumulators, on a daily basis for the previous twenty years but, in his own words, ‘kept hitting the woodwork’.

First Betting Shop Millionaire

First Betting Shop Millionaire Even back in 2008, fifty pence was less than the price of a loaf of bread, or a pint of milk, but that was the amount staked by Fred Craggs, a fertiliser salesman from Thirsk, North Yorkshire, who would subsequently become the first ‘betting shop millionaire’. The day before his sixtieth birthday, in February, 2008, Craggs placed an eight-fold accumulator on horse races at Sandown Park, Nad Al Sheba, Warwick and Wolverhampton at his local William Hill betting shop. Fittingly, under the floodlights at Gosforth Park that evening, his eighth and final selection, A Dream Come True, won at 2/1 to land cumulative odds of nearly 2,800,000/1.

Craggs remained blissfully unaware of his good fortune until the following day, when he visited another William Hill betting shop in nearby Bedale. Having placed another five bets, each worth fifty pence, as was his custom, he asked staff to check his betting slip from the previous day. Craggs apparently visibly paled when informed that his total winnings were exactly £1,000,000 – subject to maximum payout rules, but nonetheless unprecedented in the history of British betting shops – but later said that he had experienced only a ‘dull sensation of excitement about the win’. William Hill spokesman David Hood was, thankfully, a little more upbeat, saying, ‘It is a staggering bet, and earns him a place in history as the world’s first betting shop millionaire. Even a scriptwriter couldn’t have dreamt this one up.’

Fred Craggs – Millionaire

Fred Craggs - Millionaire 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.’

Cash Out Calamity

Cash Out Calamity 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.