Punters left reeling as long shots romp home on third day
BOOKMAKERS were hailing the third afternoon of the Cheltenham Festival as one of the best days they could remember after a string of big-priced winners left the punters reeling.
The day began badly for backers with 20-1 shot Benefficient winning the Jewson for Irish trainer Tony Martin.
Jonjo O'Neill's Holywell was a 25-1 winner of the Pertemps Final, then there was a little respite with 7-2 second-favourite Cue Card winning the Ryanair before a gamble went astray on Oscar Whisky in the World Hurdle.
The 50-1 win of Carrickboy in the Byrne Group Plate was another hammer blow for those who packed Prestbury Park.
"This was as good a day as I can remember for the bookmakers as a succession of well-backed favourites fell by the wayside at Prestbury Park," said Stan James' Rory Jiwani.
"Punters were chasing their losses on Oscar Whisky in the World Hurdle and he would have wiped out all of our previous gains on the day.
"The day started superbly for us with Tony Martin's 20-1 shot Benefficient turning over hot favourite Dynaste in the Jewson as Ireland took the opener for the third day running.
"Then Holywell won the Pertemps Final at 25-1 with the front two in the betting - Sam Winner and Shutthefrontdoor - finishing down the field in poor weeks for Paul Nicholls and AP McCoy respectively.
"Ballynagour had been dubbed the handicap snip of the week for David Pipe but he couldn't pick up at the vital stage in the Byrne Group Plate.
"Carrickboy won at 50-1 for Venetia Williams to make it a conclusive victory for the bookies on day three."
Ladbrokes were singing the same tune, with David Williams saying: "For the first time this week the sun shone and it shone on the bookies.
"We had the busiest half hour of the week when we went 6-1 the field in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.
"Oscar Whisky was backed off the boards in no time at all. The results then went our way and we're looking forward to another frenzy of betting on Gold Cup day."
Betfred spokesman Andrew Griffiths said: "We've had a fantastic couple of days after a torrid Tuesday, but tomorrow will make or break our meeting.
"The result of the Betfred Gold Cup will be pivotal in determining our fate this week."