Betting Coups 2
Betting on Horse Racing has given us some notable big winners. Here are a selection of some more of the biggest:
Destriero (1991 Supreme Novices Hurdle)
Mention the name of Destriero and some bookmakers still wince as they recall one of the greatest gambles of the modern era being landed in the 1991 Supreme Novices' Hurdle, which traditionally opens the meeting. Irish owner Noel Furlong claims to have netted more than £1m over Destriero, who came to Cheltenham with just the one run over hurdles under his belt – victory at Leopardstown on Boxing Day – and duly delivered by beating subsequent Champion Hurdle winner Granville Again. "We didn't run him after Christmas as we didn't want to end up getting 2-1 instead of 6-1," beamed Furlong as he headed off to the champagne bar afterwards.
Pasternak (1997 Cesarewitch)
On the Flat, the Autumn Double – Cambridgeshire and Cesarewitch – always proves popular with horse race betting aficionados, and one of the great successful plunges for the nine-furlong cavalry charge was with Sir Mark Prescott's Pasternak in 1997. If not quite on the same scale as Hackler's Pride, who is reputed to have won his connections the equivalent on modern-day values of around £12m when landing the 1903 Cambridgeshire, Pasternak, who was part-owned by the late Graham Rock, one of the shrewdest judges in the pressroom, is reckoned to have taken an amazing £5m out of the racing betting market. Rock had told everyone who would listen that they could "have what you like on Pasternak", and, though he was offered at 11-1 on the morning of the race, The Racing Post's front page headline "Why you must back Pasternak" captured the punters imagination, and bookies ran out of chalk shortening him up, and he eventually did the business at 4-1.
Istabraq (1998 Champion Hurdle)
Owner JP McManus is not averse to a horse racing bet and he confessed that he "cleaned up" when Istabraq won the first of three Champion Hurdles in 1998. Istabraq has been quoted at 14-1 to become champion after winning the Sun Alliance Hurdle the previous year, but on the day Aidan O'Brien went in print as predicting "he'll blow them away", encouraging McManus to put on his betting boots and the 3-1 favourite duly destroyed the opposition with one of the classiest displays of the decade.
Top Cees (1999 Chester Cup)
The infamous Top Cees was one of a string of big-race gambles to come off in the Cesarewitch, but he will always be remembered more for that Chester Cup triumph when he landed some huge bets for Jack and Lynda Ramsden, which led to a High Court case between Kieren Fallon and The Sporting Life, from which the jockey emerged triumphant, having been cleared of any wrong-doings in the horse's prep-race at Newmarket.