Bookies saved by Annie's defeat
The bookies breathed a sigh of relief after Annie Power halted the punters' momentum at the Cheltenham Festival on Thursday.
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After the layers took a pounding on Wednesday, the trend continued early on Thursday with two of the first three races being won by favourites - namely Fingal Bay in the Pertemps Final and Dynaste in the Ryanair Chase.
The well-backed Annie Power was next up in the World Hurdle but after being sent off as the 11/8 favourite, she was edged out by 15/2 shot More Of That.
Ladbrokes claimed the result saved them from their biggest loss on a single race since the days of Kauto Star.
Their David Williams said: "The gamble on Annie Power was nothing short of phenomenal. It was a one-horse day and felt like a one-horse week, let alone a one-horse race.
"Our advertised price of 9/4 and our money-back pledge both boosted turnover to huge levels.
"We were in the rare position of knowing our entire day would be determined by Annie Power so when More Of That outstayed her up the hill we were able to breathe the biggest sigh of relief in many a year.
"If she had gone in it would have been a knockout blow."
Those sentiments were echoed by Stan James and William Hill.
Stan James' Rory Jiwani said More Of That "came to our rescue", while Hill's Kate Miller revealed that had Annie Power prevailed it would have "guaranteed a losing Cheltenham" for her firm.
Heading into Friday's final day, which features the Gold Cup, Williams said the outcome of the week as a whole was "massively in the balance", but Betfred's Andrew Griffiths said his firm were in front with a day to go, while Boylesports described the score as "2-1 to the bookmakers" after three days.
Liam Glynn, of Boylesports, said: "Day three was most definitely a day for the bookmakers with More Of That's win in the World Hurdle a result for the firm.
"It's now 2-1 to the bookmakers with overall business thriving as we enter the final day."
The bookies will be looking for Bobs Worth, the favourite and defending champion in the Gold Cup, to be beaten, while how Briar Hill gets on in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle will also be key to their day.
Willie Mullins' hurdler has shortened throughout the week and was as short as even money with some firms on Thursday evening.
A big reason for that is the accumulator effect with many punters having included Briar Hill in multiples along with other Mullins horses Faugheen and Vautour, who have already won at the Festival.