The 2016 festival was described as ‘ghastly’ by bookies after a number of fancied horses romped to victory and left them around $50 million down, and the significance of this year’s meeting has not been lost on William Hill. Spokesman Jon Ivan-Duke said: “Cheltenham Festival is the most important annual event for bookies, worth more than the Grand National and Royal Ascot combined.”
The four-day festival will kick off on Tuesday, with William Hill expecting to turn over around £60 million. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is set to attract the most bets of any race this year, when it is estimated that at least 10,000 wagers will be placed every minute.While there are about 150 separate markets for each day of the meeting, about 70 percent of the money staked is expected to be on outright winner bets.
William Hill has seen an increase in turnover of 20% during the National Hunt season, partly because of the company’s sponsorship of ITV Racing, and another big week of business is all but guaranteed. Whether the bookies or the punters come out on top remains to be seen, but it promises to be a spectacular Cheltenham Festival with lots of thrilling races.