British bookmakers have taken a hit estimated at between £2.5 million and £18 million in what appears to be a well-organised – and perfectly legal – betting coup.
British media have linked the four winners at the centre of the betting blitz to former trainer Barney Curley, an Irishman who has beaten betting shops in a similar way before.
Four horses originally priced as outsiders were all heavily backed before romping to victories.
A spokesman for betting house Paddy Power told The Mirror it was a grim day for bookmakers.
“There’s no doubt this is one of the blackest days in the history of bookmaking.
“The horses have been backed in singles, doubles, trebles and four-folds and punters who have heard about the gamble have clambered aboard the bandwagon.
“What looked like a mundane midweek’s racing has turned into one of the most newsworthy racing days of the modern era and we reckon it cost the industry £15 million,” the spokesman told The Mirror.
Another media report later quoted a Paddy Power spokesman as saying the betting blitz had cost the firm £1 million. “They’ve well and truly taken our pants down.”
Other estimates put the losses as high as £18 million and others as low as £2 million. It is unclear how much of that action went Curley’s way, with other punters in the know, or cottoning on to what was happening, also betting heavily on the horses, even though the odds shortened as the money piled on.
Three of the winners at the centre of the betting blitz, Eye of the Tiger, Low Key and Seven Summits, were all once trained by Curley, The Mirror reported.
Another, Indus Valley, was trained by Des Donovan, an associate of Curley’s.
All the horses started at long odds, with the odds shortening as the money went on, some eventually priced as race favourites.
Eye of the Tiger, from example, was originally priced at 10-1 after not having a race start for 481 days, but eventually raced as evens favourite.
Seven Summits went from 7-1 to 9-4 favourite.
Indus Valley, which won after 700 days without a start, went from 20-1 to 4-6 in the odds.
Low Key, back after a 350-day lay-off, went from 7-1 to 4-7 before storming him for a win in its race.
The bookmakers had originally laid long odds on each of the horses due to their long layoffs.
Other punters who could see what was happening also bet heavily for a share of the action.
Curley, who does not normally talk to media, declined to comment.