With another Cheltenham Festival in the books, bookmakers in torn clothes are stumbling into police stations, telling lurid tales of having been savagely violated by punters. A long list of favorites cashing in enabled the betting ruffians to rough up the books for an estimated €23m, according to Ladbrokes’ David Williams. Describing the indignities inflicted on his own company as “desperately bad,” Williams said the memory of the rowdy punters’ raised voices “will give us nightmares long into the summer. We can’t get out of the Cotswolds quickly enough.” William Hill’s Tony Kenny was a tad less hyperbolic, saying the books were only out €10m, and Williams needed to grow a pair. Okay, Kenny didn’t actually say that ‘grow a pair’ bit, but we bet he was thinking it.
Things would have been even worse for the books had a horse named Sam Winner lived up to its name. A Cork punter’s accumulator wager at Boylesports was set to pay off €1m if Sam Winner could triumph at the Triumph Hurdle, but this ‘Winner’ finished no higher than fourth. (Guess racing is only allowed one Steve Whiteley story per month.) We assume the disenchanted punter then proceeded to account for a great percentage of the 220k pints of Guinness, 240k bottles of beer and 20k bottles of champagne consumed during this year’s Festival.
There were a record 13 Irish horses notching victories at this year’s Cheltenham, but three Irish humans also made out pretty well this week. After posting increased profits across all divisions last year, Paddy Power CEO Patrick Kennedy, COO Breon Corcoran and Finance Director Jack Massey are in line for a hefty payday. The three were awarded €5.1m worth of shares tied to long-term incentives, with an extra €6.4m worth coming their way if certain targets are met. Kennedy’s personal share was €2.5m worth of shares now and potentially €3.2m more by 2014.
History was made at Towcester on St. Patty’s, when the 4:25 race was voided after all four horses failed to finish. It’s the first time the phenomenon has occurred since the 2009 introduction of the controversial remounting rule. With two horses already down, Identity Parade refused at the last fence, sending jockey Adrian Lane arse over tit. Despite being four lengths back, last horse standing Radharc Na Mara promptly stumbled, sending rider Peter Toole flying, and that was that. None of the participants seemed all that chuffed about their role in making history, with Radharc Na Mara’s trainer Tom Dreaper calling the situation “ridiculous.” No, it’s just silly. The £2.95 per withdrawal service charge levied by the Cheltenham cash machines? Now, that’s ridiculous.