Huge multiple gamble landed
A four-horse gamble involving two horses that used to be trained by Barney Curley was landed on Wednesday.
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Eye Of The Tiger made his debut for Des Donovan in the 1.30 at Lingfield and returned the nine-length winner at even money having been as big as 5/1 in the morning.
The nine year old had been off for 481 days and returned on a handicap mark of 56 having made his British debut for Curley from a rating of 112 just six starts ago.
Donovan said: "He's had very bad problems and he won't run under a penalty.
"I used to work for Mr Curley and I'm in his yard. No-one wanted to buy him and he said 'do what you can with him'
"I wouldn't be backing him (today)."
Just 10 minutes later at Catterick, Seven Summits had his second start over hurdles in the colours of former BHA handicapper Christian Leech.
His wife, Sophie, trains the former Curley inmate and the seven year old battled hard to land odds of 9/4 having been an 8/1 chance with some bookies earlier in the day.
Christian Leech told Racing UK: "He does need this soft ground and normally you get it at this time of year, so we thought with one or two issues that he'd had he would benefit from the time (off) and get his ground.
"I think he had a leg injury prior to us having him. He's just one we have to molly coddle. He's bandaged in exercise and when he's in his stables and we just have to mind him very carefully, that's why he's got so few miles on the clock.
"I didn't (have any money on). Someone just said that (there had been a gamble). He was 7-2, 4-1 in the paper anyway and Tony Carroll's was very well fancied and that was a non-runner, so I'm not sure about that. I don't know."
Next up was Indus Valley who went off at 4/6 having been 15/2 in the morning in the kempton.co.uk Handicap at 4.25.
Also trained by Donovan, he hadn't run for 700 days since leaving the care of Irish handler Adrian McGuiness and he was rated just 45 having once been allotted a mark of 90 early in his career.
He won by half a length from long-time leader Seamster having reeled him in in the straight.
The final horse involved was the easiest winner of the lot as Low Key (sent off at 4/7) won the Kempton For Weddings Handicap (6.25) under Liam Keniry.
Trained by John Butler, a former assistant to Curley, the seven year old was fitted with a visor for the first time on his return from 350 days on the sidelines, racing from a mark of 60 having been allotted a rating of 88 when arriving from France just four starts ago.
It was his first appearance since being gelded too.
Michael Shinners of Sky Bet said: "There was a sense of inevitability about Low Key's win - like the three others he travelled strongly and turning into straight the writing was on the wall for the layers.
"We've lost money on the four horses but not vast amounts having managed to avoid the worst of it at the bigger morning prices."
Coral's David Stevens said: "Although we avoided laying some of the larger prices overnight, we did see a number of multiple bets featuring these four horses both online and in shops, and throughout the day this number increased as word of the gamble that was taking place gathered momentum.
"Once the name Barney Curley was put into the mix - although there is no official confirmation he was involved - there is no question a lot of the bets placed would have been from punters with no knowledge of any plot but who were simply joining in the gamble.
"Victory for all four horses has cost us a six-figure payout, and based on our losses we would estimate the industry has been hit for something in the region of £2million, which although still costly, is perhaps lower than some claims.
"As bookmakers we will take this on the chin as it goes with the business we're in, but we would also look at the bigger picture, racing's share of the betting market is decreasing, and while some punters will have profited from these winners, plenty would have bet against them in good faith, ensuring it's not just the bookies who pay the price on days like these."
David Williams of Ladbrokes said: "It was a bad day at the office, nothing more and nothing less. We dodged most of the early morning frenzy but you can't stop moving trains and we got caught up in some of it as the day panned out.
"Suggestions of a multi-million pound bloodbath are probably wide of the mark so we're not going to lunge for the violins just yet. Our decision not to price the Kempton races up until as late as possible helped protect us from the worst of it and we certainly weren't exposed to any of the overnight business where most of the fancy prices were snapped up.
"We are satisfied that the systems we have in place at our end are sufficient to protect us as best we can from circumstances like today. Ultimately we have a responsibility to keep on top of the rumours and trade accordingly, which we managed to do."