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Coral braced for biggest racing betting week of the year

On the eve of the Cheltenham Festival, bookmaker Coral has released a list of the top 40 races by turnover in their betting shops last year, which shows that 19 of the top 40 were races run at Prestbury Park’s most important meeting.

“Unsurprisingly the Grand National is the biggest race of the year by turnover, but that is largely down to millions of people placing their one bet of the year, and a far more accurate picture of racing’s importance to bookmakers is painted by the races from number two down,” said Coral’s David Stevens.

“The Gold Cup has now been clear second for the last four years, something we attribute to the golden era of chasing featuring Kauto Star, Denman and co, as their rivalry really did capture punters’ imagination, and in all, Festival races make up almost half the top 40, confirming that this week is the biggest, most important week for bookmakers as far as racing is concerned,” added Stevens.

“There are some details that surprised us, such as how high the Albert Bartlett and Foxhunters were in the list, but we put this down to them being the shoulder races to the Gold Cup, so shops would be at their busiest, and the presence of a hot favourite like Boston Bob in last year’s Albert Bartlett would also boost turnover.  The inclusion of the Champion Bumper, Kim Muir and Grand Annual in the top 40 also shows that there really is such a thing as the ‘getting-out stakes’, as punters look to end the day on a high,” said Stevens.

“Races with a strong favourite, but not long odds-on, tend to provide the highest turnover, so we would expect this year’s Champion Chase to be lower than last year’s number eleven, although ironically not at coral.co.uk, as we have built a huge position with our Sprinter Sacre offer.  We devote substantial resources on promoting the Cheltenham Festival each year, indeed promotion of the 2014 Festival will start as soon as the runners past the post in Tuesday’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, but it is clearly worthwhile,” said Stevens.

“We can expect the Festival to form the centre-piece of a week that will see in excess of £500 million wagered across the UK in total, and while we recognise that this meeting is by its nature a one-off, there must be lessons that racing and bookmakers can learn from it to boost turnover elsewhere,” concluded Stevens.