Day One of the 2015 Cheltenham Festival saw the many Willie Mullins fans back the short priced options in Yankees, Lucky 15’s and accumulators and all looked pretty rosy after Douvan took the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle by an easy four and a half lengths at odds of 2/1, shortly followed by a six length Arkle win by Un De Sceaux at 4/6, and a length and a half win for Faugheen in the Champion Hurdle at odds of 4/5 .It was about this time that the bookmakers went in to melt down as they realised their liabilities on Annie Power in the Mares’ hurdle. Smaller punters had put them all together leaving payouts in the millions but before that, some sizeable on course bets had already been landed to the bookmakers horror.
Close to £50,000 was officially recorded at the track on Douvan including one of £20,000 to win at 15/8 which left them out of pocket, though they did keep a £10,000 bet on Jollyallan at 9/1 and £13,000 on L’Ami Serge at 7/2, so no need to be too sympathetic! Naturally, we can only guess if they were or weren’t the same punters, but some decent bets were also struck on the odds on Un De Sceaux, including two of £11,000 to win £8,000 and one of £6000 to win £4000 and we can only imagine them scurrying around trying desperately to lay off their liabilities. By the time Faugheen took the Champion Hurdle the white flags were out (some wanted to go home), as the bigger punters went for the kill. Bets of £120,000 and £30,000 to win went in the ledgers as well as a host of other bets in the thousands, and when he went past the post in front, we almost felt sorry for them (but not quite).
They did recoup a little with 9/1 shot The Druids Nephew in the 2.40pm – one of our 2017 Cheltenham tips – but must have been holding their breath when Annie Power went to post in the 4.00pm after another barrage of massive bets on her at odds of 1/2 by off time. Bets of £52,500 to win as well as £14,000, £7,000 three times and others looked likely to see a bloodbath as she went clear only to fall at the last and ruin numerous smaller bets as well as those of the big hitters and saving the bookmakers literally millions of pounds in pay outs. With the last two events of less interest to some, they made a little back when Cause Of Causes took the National Hunt Chase at 8/1 and Irish Cavalier took the last at 11/1, but overall they had a very bad day and we were interested to see how they would bet on the Wednesday – increase their margins or hope to get the favourites beaten?