Bookies ‘Dodge a Massive Bullet’ at Royal Ascot6 months ago
If the swings in poker feel huge at times, then spare a thought for the horseracing bookmakers – Frankie Dettori’s four in a row at the recent Royal Ascot festival seeing them literally shaking at the prospect of a bank-busting fifth straight win…
As with casinos, very few would be shedding tears at the ‘house’ getting hit by a massive upset – but it was still the ‘biggest liability the firm had ever seen on a single horse’ when Dettori mounted his steed Turgenev.
Priced at 1/3 – a three to one on favourite - GVC’s racing trading director James Knight breathed a sigh of relief as Dettori’s mount failed to win, according to egr.global’s Brad Allen.
“That getting beaten was the biggest swing we had seen,” Knight stated afterwards, explaining: “Clearly if that had won then the number on Questionnaire (Dettori’s 6th ride of the day) would have been completely unprecedented."
“We are talking an order of magnitude that was several times larger than Annie Power back in 2015.”
The Annie Power near-debacle for the bookies became known as “the $50million fall” when the Irish thoroughbred mare toppled at the final hurdle to lose.
With the Mullins’ stable owners having already counted three winners that day, had Annie Power stayed on her feet the number of combination bets would have brutally exposed many bookmakers to $million losses.
Back at Royal Ascot this week, bookmaker William was another one feeling the heat, Hill’s Rupert Adams stating:
“I got an email from the trading room after the fourth (Dettori win) saying ‘don’t bother coming into work if the last two win.”
A relieved Adams said of Dettori’s Questionnaire ride:
“When he was collared on the line the only people in the place cheering were me and another bookie I was with!”
The effect of a very bad day’s racing from the bookies’ perspective, says Adams, is a genuine worry:
“We’re a £100m business these days rather than a £250m business, and a really bad day genuinely knocks us on the chin now. We clearly wouldn’t have gone bust but a smaller operators might well have done”.
Over the years poker players have given casinos similar scares, though in the gambling pits rather than at the poker table, the most famous story involving Archie Karas.
The inveterate gambler ran a string of pool, poker and latterly dice and baccarat wins together, turning his last $50 into a $40million fortune!
At one point Karas owned all the $5k chips at Binions Horseshoe Casino, but the incredible two year run eventually saw him crash and burn, much to the casino’s relief.
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