Saturday 21 October 2017

Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh combine to pulverise the bookies on Cheltenham Day 1

CHELTENHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 15: Ruby Walsh celebrates in the winners' enclosure with trainer Willie Mullins and owner Rich Ricci after riding Douvan to victory in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase on day one, Champion Day, of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse on March 15, 2016 in Cheltenham, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
CHELTENHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 15: Ruby Walsh celebrates in the winners' enclosure with trainer Willie Mullins and owner Rich Ricci after riding Douvan to victory in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase on day one, Champion Day, of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse on March 15, 2016 in Cheltenham, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Keith Hamer

Bookmakers suffered a costly day one at Cheltenham as the man they feared, trainer Willie Mullins, chalked up a treble with Douvan, Annie Power and Vroum Vroum Mag.

While the defeat on Min in the opening Supreme Novices' Hurdle spared them potentially multi-million pound liabilities, the successful trio still managed to pierce a gaping hole in the layers' satchels.

They will be praying for a quick turnaround in results starting on Wednesday if they are going to recoup their losses.

Douvan's victory at 1-4 in the Arkle Trophy had been expected but with Annie Power (5-2 favourite) in the Champion Hurdle and Vroum Vroum Mag (4-6 favourite) in the Mares' Hurdle also doing the business for Mullins, owner Rich Ricci and jockey Ruby Walsh, the damage was done.

Annie Power's hammer blow was in start contrast to 12 months ago, when she saved the bookies millions when falling at the last with the Mares' Hurdle at her mercy.

Ladbrokes' David Williams, who estimated a loss in excess of £8million throughout the industry, said: "It has been a torrid start to the week for bookies.

"The defeat of Min seems a lifetime ago and it all went right for punters after that.

"Ruby rode back to the rescue of punters in devastating style.

"We can't stop moving trains and there was nothing we could do to stop the Ruby onslaught.

"Last year Annie Power got us out of jail but this year it feels like she's put us firmly in the slammer."

William Hill estimated the overall hammering at £10million and put the blame firmly at Mullins' door.

"We were lulled in to a false sense of security as the first Mullins hotpot was overturned, but we were made to suffer with the other three. It's Punters One - Bookies Nil," said William Hill spokesman Jon Ivan-Duke.

Paddy Power refunded over £750,000 as free bets on those who backed Min.

The firm said: "For the second year running the bookies were running scared of a Willie Mullins' four-fold and while Min's loss got us out of jail early on, the bail cost us a tidy sum."

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