Sunday 23 April 2017

Mullins' unlikely blank a 'change of luck' for bookies

Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Tony Gavin
Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Tony Gavin

Keith Hamer

Punters were left licking their wounds after bookmakers struck the first blow on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival.

Though one of the bankers of the week, Altior, duly did the business as expected in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy, his price of 1/4 was not one to cost the layers dear.

The writing was on the wall from the very first race as the unconsidered Labaik swept to victory at odds of 25/1 in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle and set up a Gordon Elliott treble.

Melon was the first in a series of well-backed Willie Mullins-trained horses to be beaten with Singlefarmpayment (in the Ultima Handicap Chase), Yanworth (Stan James Champion Hurdle) and Limini (OLBG Mares' Hurdle) all suffering similar fates.

The fact that Mullins drew a blank on the opening afternoon for the first time since 2008 undoubtedly helped bookmakers.

Nicola McGeady of Ladbrokes said: "It is a change of luck for sure, as day one of the Festival has been known to be very unkind to us. We're not counting our chickens just yet, though."

Paddy Power's Paul Binfield said: "Melon, Yanworth and Limini all failed to sparkle and while punters got some respite from Altior, it was too little too early and the bookies have done well."

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Irish Independent

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