In-running betting has been in the spotlight lately and the risks associated with this form of punting were never better illustrated than in the first two races at Newbury yesterday.
Two horses offered by layers on Betfair at 1/50 and 1/25 were beaten after looking certain to win.
In the opener, Grumeti, which had been jumping and running with tremendous zest, raced eight lengths clear of his rivals at the second-last flight of the juvenile hurdle.
It merely looked a matter of 'name the distance' for the four-year-old, which has been tipped as a successor to Katchit and Penzance -- two Alan King-trained winners of the Triumph Hurdle.
But, after appearing to jump the flight efficiently, the gelding took two strides, lost his balance and slid to the ground, throwing Wayne Hutchinson out of the side door.
Grumeti had been on offer to Betfair punters at 1.02 (1/50) at that crucial point of the race, while Art History was immediately priced at 1.05 (1/20), only to begin wandering through lack of focus and concentration.
Eventually, Crafty Roberto, sent off a 40/1 outsider, gathered momentum and started staying on better than all his rivals, so much so, that he registered a comfortable victory, having traded at 319/1 on Betfair as the field raced into the home straight.
As if this wasn't enough, those intrepid punters that like betting at extremely short odds were in for a double dose of disappointment half an hour later when Barry Geraghty, riding Bellvano, moved boldly upsides Ruby Walsh on Cedre Bleu over the last two fences in the Zenergi Novice Chase, appearing to have plenty up his sleeve.
While Cedre Bleu had ballooned the third-last fence and a never-say-die Walsh was forced to adopt vigorous mode, Geraghty sat motionless on Bellvano, which shortened to 1.04 (1/25), while the under pressure Cedre Bleu was offered at 23/1.
This tale ended with Bellvano finding nothing on the run-in, while Cedre Bleu seemed much more comfortable without a fence in front of him and with Walsh still urging him along, he came home a tidy winner.
He was given a 33/1 quote for the Irish Independent Arkle and Walsh expressed his satisfaction with the display, saying: "He jumped really well, Lidar was jumping into me much of the way, which didn't help.
"But, for a first-timer (over fences), he has jumped well. I know that Bellvano doesn't find much off the bridle, so I thought if I could get him at it, I had a chance and I did. It was Cedre Bleu's first run (of the season), so he'll improve and two miles around Newbury going a good gallop, I'm happy enough with that."
Even though Grumeti failed to finish until his departure at the second-last, his display had been a convincing Triumph Hurdle trial and it was a marked improvement on his previous Taunton win against arguably weaker, although older, company. With that in mind, it may be best to forget this mishap, which cost him dearly.
Bookmakers certainly appear prepared to adopt that viewpoint for they still cut him to 8/1 favourite for the Cheltenham race and Coral even went 7/1 from 10/1.
King said later: "It was very unfortunate as he had been running so well. We will see how he is in the morning, but we could perhaps get two more runs into him before Cheltenham -- the Triumph is still very much on the cards."
Two former Festival heroes, reinvented as hunter chasers, dominated yesterday's chase. Chapoturgeon mocked his handicap mark to take the Jewson Novices' Chase three years ago and the eight year-old proved a class apart again yesterday as he eased home 16 lengths clear of the 2007 Kim Muir winner Cloudy Lane to give rider Jack Barber his first success under Rules. (© Daily Telegraph, London)