Punter comes agonisingly close to hitting €1m jackpot
AN IRISH punter came agonisingly close to hitting a €1m jackpot on the last day of the Cheltenham Festival.
The accumulator bet on winners in five different races had rested on the appropriately named, Sam Winner, romping home in first place in yesterday's Triumph Hurdle.
But the bet placed at a Boylesports betting shop in Cork was dashed when the horse, ridden by the punters' favourite Ruby Walsh, finished fourth.
But a record-breaking 13 Irish-trained winners across the four days of the festival ensured a big payout for punters.
Irish bookmakers estimated people had splurged around €80m online and in betting shops during the festival.
Tony Kenny, a spokesman for William Hill bookmakers, said the bookies estimated Irish punters had finished the week around €10m up.
"The last few years the bookies have cleaned up," he said. "This year we've been cleaned out."
Victory for the Nicky Hen-derson-trained 7/2 favourite, Long Run, in yesterday's Gold Cup meant a massive payout and Ladbrokes estimated the betting industry had paid out more than €23m.
Among the biggest payouts of the week were the Willie Mullins-trained Hurricane Fly, Quevega and UK-trained Big Buck's.
Racegoers downed more than 220,000 pints of Guinness from plastic glasses, 20,000 bottles of champagne and 240,000 bottles of beer. More than 65,000 attended Gold Cup day -- with people travelling by coach, car, and helicopter for the most glamorous day of the festival.