Punters cash in on Big Buck's
Big Buck's once more lived up to his name when raking in the cash for punters with a third successive Ladbrokes World Hurdle victory.
The hat-trick hero has been a pain in the side for the Cheltenham layers, who estimate the Paul Nicholls-trained gelding to have cost them a total of £50m with his Festival triumphs, including £15m this time round as he outgunned market rival Grands Crus when sent off the 10/11 favourite.
David Williams, for the big-race sponsors, said: "We've been wiped out on the race but we're not in the mood for a moan. It was a historic moment in racing and we were thrilled to be a part of it.
"What we've lost in our trading department we will more than make up for in marketing. Big Buck's is the punters' hero and we adore him too.
"Punters couldn't get enough of Big Buck's. We dared to put our heads above the parapet in the morning and by lunchtime we were staring down the barrel of a mega-gamble."
Paddy Power admitted losing £1.2m on that race alone, while Stan James also took a battering.
Stan James spokesman Garry McGibbon said: "That was the result we were dreading. Big Buck's was our worst ante-post loser of the entire meeting, partly as a consequence of the enhanced double we offered a few weeks ago on Quevega to win the Mares' Hurdle and Big Buck's to win this race.
Big Buck's apart, the bookies were shading the daily skirmish until the punters hit back in the finale with Junior in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup.
William Hill spokeswoman Kate Miller said: "It's been a mixed bag of results. We bucked the trend by siding aggressively with Big Buck's and were rewarded, but watching Junior come of age in the Kim Muir hurt us.
"It's a photo-finish with the punters for this battle, but we're still winning the war."
Punters struck first, with Tony McCoy bringing home another well-backed Irish-trained winner of the Festival in the shape of Paul Nolan's Noble Prince (4/1) in the Jewson Novices' Chase.
McCoy was their pal again as he completed a 34/1 double when Albertas Run (6/1) took the Ryanair Chase for the second year running.
David Pipe dealt a blow to punters when his 6/1 favourite Chartreux was out with the washing as stable second string Buena Vista (20/1) took the Pertemps Final for the second year running.
But Pipe was back in the punters' good books when Junior, the 100/30 jolly, romped home in the Kim Muir after there had been some respite for the bookies when wholesale gamble Beautiful Sound could finish a never-nearer third behind 25/1 chance Holmwood Legend in the Byrne Group Plate.
"The excellent Jamie Codd ensured a losing day when he guided Junior to victory in the finale," said bet365 spokesman Pat Cooney.
"Big Buck's was a poor result but was a joy to watch, but Junior's win was a dreadful end to the day."