Day Two of the 2015 Cheltenham Festival saw the bookmakers come out narrowly on top with just the two winning favourites from the seven races. The Irish took the opener once again though not with the well supported Nichols Canyon as expected as Dermot Weld’s 9/2 shot Windsor Park scored by close to four lengths from Parlour Games. Over £20,000 in losing bets were recorded on the favourite, boosting the bookies satchels, but in the next race Don Poli landed the bets for Willie Mullins supporters at odds of 13/8, and took most if not all of that back. Perhaps the punters had lost too much in the first race as no massive bets were recorded despite his short price, though a few hardy folk, headed by a £4000 to win £7000 took what they could get. Kings Palace may have started second in the betting but he took plenty of early bets including one of £10,000 to win £40,000, but it wasn’t us thank goodness!
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls took the Coral Cup with 9/1 shot Aux Ptits Soins to add to the bookies profits, though as the favourite was 17/2, he was hardly unsupported. It was perhaps the finish of the day with a neck, a neck, and half a length covering the first four home, and favourite backers trying to cheer Activial home but it wasn’t to be and we moved on swiftly to the Queen Mother Champion chase.
Sprinter Sacre is possibly the best two-mile chaser we have ever seen when 100% and he was sent off favourite at odds of 9/4 after a flurry of bets that knocked the bookmakers backwards. The biggest bet recorded was of £20,000 to win £55,000 and was backed up by plenty of others in the thousands, but he wasn’t himself and was pulled up when beaten before the last fence. Somersby ran yet another superb race in second for Mick Channon at odds of 33/1 and added to his place record in the top races but it was Paul Nicholls who doubled up for the day with Dodging Bullets who scored by a length and a quarter at odds of 9/2 landing two big bets of £2000 to win and £1000 to win (at 4/1) but not making a dent in comparison to the profits via Nicky Henderson’s horse.
Next stop on the whirlwind tour we had the Cross Country Chase, the marmite of the racing world, you either love it or you hate it. Well this year the bookmakers loved it more than most as 16/1 chance Rivage D’Or scored for Tony Martin. Not taking anything away from the winner, NO bets of any size were recorded on course and although not a skinner, you could hear the players laughing from the town centre.
Amazingly, us punters never seem to learn and Paul Nicholls made it a treble for the day and somehow, Qualando was allowed to start at the rather generous odds of 25/1. Admittedly, the yard went in mob handed and stable jockey Sam Twiston-Davies rode an alternative in All Yours (11/1) who finished fifth, but with the first four home at odds of 25/1, 14/1, 33/1 and 16/1 it was another race for the bookies and one they enjoyed a lot more than the rest of us!
One race to go, and finally the punters got some kind of respite as Moon Racer, David Pipe’s unbeaten six year old pulled one back for favourite backers. Sent off at 9/2, two £1000 bets were landed at a very nice 6/1 and one at 5/1 as well as a £3200 to £20,000 which at least meant those poor bookies had a little less cash to try and carry home.