Bookies hail Festival shocks
Bookmakers came out on top after the final day of the Cheltenham Festival as 20/1 chance Lord Windermere won the Gold Cup.
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After three days and 20 races it was widely considered to be honours even heading into the final day of the National Hunt spectacular, but the writing was on the wall for punters in the very first race as favourite Calipto finished a luckless fourth.
Willie Mullins gamble Arctic Fire was then beaten in the County Hurdle having looked the winner heading to the last, before Mullins endured even worse luck as favourite Briar Hill fell midway through the Albert Bartlett, a race won by 33/1 chance Very Wood.
Even so, a public gamble on Bobs Worth could yet have turned the tide, only for Nicky Henderson's star chaser to manage only fifth in the Gold Cup despite having traded at odds-on turning for home.
Instead, the race was won by 20/1 chance Lord Windermere - largely unconsidered by punters despite having won the 2013 RSA Chase - and with On His Own and The Giant Bolster filling the places it truly was a bookies' benefit.
Betfred spokesman Andrew Griffiths said: "It's fair to say our whole Festival hinged on the results of the Albert Bartlett and the Betfred Gold Cup.
"We've sent out a search party to locate any punters that backed Very Wood and Lord Windermere. 33/1 and 20/1 winners are always good for the layers, but to have two on such a big day is almost too good to be true.
"It's in stark contrast to 12 months ago when we were flying before having our satchels emptied on the final day. More or less every result went our way this afternoon and we'll be leaving the Cotswolds with a smile on our face."
David Williams of Ladbrokes concurred, saying: "We could scarcely have written a better script. Lord Windermere all but slipped off the radar and we enjoyed our best day of the meeting by far.
"We went into the final day with honours fairly even but punters looked a bit dazed as the Festival came to an end.
"Overall we're happy enough with how it's all finished. It's a very different feeling to 12 months ago when we endured our own Black Friday. The sun shone on Gold Cup day and it shone on the bookies."
Sky Bet Racing PR Manager Michael Shinners added: "It was very even before the final day but the Gold Cup ensured it was a great week for the layers. It's been full of the usual drama, thrills and spills and another unforgettable Cheltenham Festival."