Bookies stretch ahead at Festival
Day three of the Cheltenham Festival belonged to the bookmakers as three of the best-backed horses were just denied.
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It all started in the first race when 11/8 favourite Dynaste was passed by 20/1 chance Benefficient in the Jewson Novices' Chase.
The consistent but easy to back Holywell then defied odds of 25/1 to win the Pertemps Final, a race in which favourite Sam Winner disappointed and well-backed Jetson's late flourish was only enough for third.
Cue Card had his supporters in the Ryanair Chase and the 7/2 chance impressed in bounding clear, but his victory was better than it could've been for the layers given that 2/1 favourite First Lieutenant was second.
Punters attempted to get it back in the day's feature, the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, but despite being sent off at 9/4 favourite Oscar Whisky failed to land any sort of blow.
Instead, Solwhit outstayed 40/1 outsider Celestial Halo to win for Ireland at 17/2, with 9/1 shot Smad Place just denying second-favourite Reve De Sivola in the battle for third.
David Williams of the sponsors said: "For the first time this week the sun shone and it shone on the bookies. We had the busiest half hour of the week when we went 6/1 the field in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.
"Oscar Whisky was backed off the boards in no time at all. The results then went our way and we're looking forward to another frenzy of betting on Gold Cup day."
Venetia Williams won the Byrne Group Plate with 50/1 chance Carrickboy and this time it was Ballynagour who disappointed favourite backers, weakening out of contention having moved powerfully during the race.
Nigel Twiston-Davies then saddled his second winner of the week, Same Difference battling on gamely to deny 11/2 favourite Super Duty by a head.
Rory Jiwani of Stan James said: "This was as good a day as I can remember for the bookmakers as a succession of well-backed favourites fell by the wayside at Prestbury Park.
"Punters were chasing their losses on Oscar Whisky in the World Hurdle and he would have wiped out all of our previous gains on the day
"We were top price every runner in the race and he was a massive loser in the book with everything else a big winner.
"The day started superbly for us with Tony Martin's 20/1 shot Benefficient turning over hot favourite Dynaste in the Jewson as Ireland took the opener for the third day running.
"Ballynagour had been dubbed the handicap snip of the week for David Pipe but he couldn't pick up at the vital stage in the Byrne Group Plate. Carrickboy won at 50/1 for Venetia Williams to make it a conclusive victory for the bookies on day three."
Sky Bet's Michael Shinners commented: "A tremendous day for the bookies, with result after result going our way.
"Dynaste getting beat was a very good start both in the singles and the multiples. From there on in apart from Cue Card, results have gone very much our way and we go into the final 2-1 up with Gold Cup day to go."
One William Hill shop customer stands to punch a hole in bookies' profits with a £500 accumulator running onto Friday's Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup according to the firm.
The unnamed gentleman placed the bet at the start of the Festival on six of the week's runners, beginning with Hurricane Fly in Tuesday's Champion Hurdle who won at odds of 9/4.
Sprinter Sacre (2/7), and The New One (4/1) both fired home for him in Wednesday's races, and Solwhit added to the pot with Thursday's World Hurdle victory coming at odds of 9/1.
The Derby-based customer now has around £104,000 running-up onto Paul Nicholl's fancied runner Silviniaco Conti in the Gold Cup.
Kate Miller, spokeswoman for William Hill, said: "This is probably one nervous chap!
"We'll be paying him a life-changing sum of money if Silviniaco Conti wins the famous Gold Cup and he looks to have an outstanding chance.
"Our customer has gone 'all in' with just one single bet, but as Derby is the home of Rolls Royce, he could win enough to buy himself a brand new motor with his winnings!"