Bookies predict £600m Cheltenham bonanza

BOOKMAKERS predict that punters will go on a recession-busting betting spree at Cheltenham this week.

William Hill believe around £150m to be staked on each of the Festival’s four days – an average of £24m per race for the 26 races.

And they are also predicting a £40m climax for Friday’s Gold Cup rematch between Kauto Star and Denman.

At the same time, however, bookies also fear the Festival’s four red-hot favourites – Dunguib, Master Minded, Big Buck’s and Kauto Star – could cost them as much as £50m if they all come home first.

“Bookies really are starting on the back foot this year,” said spokesman David Hood. “These are four outstanding chances for punters to get their teeth into – and each one dominates a day of the Festival.

“We can only hope to get one or more of them beaten, but realistically they look like bankers for the punter and if all four win, it will put the bookies on their knees. Punters won’t be able to carry it all home!”

l Meanwhile, Kauto Star is more familiar than Nick Clegg, according to a Ladbrokes survey. A whopping 98 per cent of punters have heard of the Gold Cup favourite while almost one in four punters claim never to have heard of the Liberal Democrat leader.

Cabinet Minister Ed Miliband who left 21 per cent of the public clueless as to who he is, while more people had heard of Gold Cup hero Desert Orchid than Chancellor Alistair Darling.