Betting Coups

Betting on Horse Racing has given us some notable big winners. Here are a selection of the biggest:

Elis (1836 St Leger)

One of the earliest successful horse race betting coups on record was the success of Elis in the 1836 St Leger. Elis's owner, Lord Bentinck, was one of racing's great reformers and a fearless punter, and, though those were the days when one had to walk one's horse to the races as decent roads were few and far between, m'Lud was well aware that bookmakers, knowing that he was based down at Goodwood, would lengthen the horse's odds and he set about constructing a special carriage to transport Elis up to Doncaster. Bookies happily gave Bentinck 12-1 about Elis, and, pulled by six horses at the rate of 80 miles a day, Elis arrived on Town Moor two days before the race and duly hosed up at 7-2.

Forgive n'Forget (1983 Coral Golden Hurdle Final)

The purists will always associate Forgive n' Forget as being a Gold Cup winner, but for regular Cheltenham punters his greatest moment came in the 1983 Coral Golden Hurdle Final when he landed owner Tim Kilroe and trainer Jimmy Fitzgerald a massive coup. Despite a field of 23, Forgive n' Forget was backed off the boards and Mark Dwyer oozed confidence on the 5-2 favourite, waiting until approaching the final flight to deliver his challenge and quickly mastering main market-rival Brunton Park to win by three lengths.

6479/1 Novelty Bet Accumulator (1989)

A 40-year-old night-shift worker from Newport in South Wales walked into his local betting shop on December 30th 1989 and staked £30 on an accumulator, which banked on a series of happenings before the turn of the millennium. The punter's prayers were with Cliff Richard (4-1) being knighted, U2 (3-1) remaining a pop group, Eastenders (5-1) still being around as a BBC soap opera, and both Neighbours (5-1) and Home Away (8-1) remaining on our British television screens. Remarkably, all his prayers were answered, and two days into the new millennium he walked back into the shop and asked for his winnings, which amounted to £194,400. Nobody had passed on the bet to head office, but after a couple of days it was confirmed as a bona fide transaction, and the punter was duly paid out, his 6,479-1 accumulator still being the largest novelty “killing” in the history of bookmaking. In the high-stakes world of spread betting, what are the odds on a lucky punter beating this record in years to come?