Bookmakers dodge a bullet at Royal Ascot

Updated: 25/06/2022

The GVC, one of the worlds largest publicly listed holding companies in betting was truly staring down the barrel on Thursday 20th. Legendary jockey Frankie Dettori stormed to victory four races in a row, winning the Gold Cup in the process. Stradivarius backed to even money caused absolute despair for the bookies at Royal Ascot, but it could have been a whole lot worse.

The Queen at Ascot

The Queen arrives at Royal Ascot © Pixabay.

Ascot exploded with excitement on Thursday, as Frankie Dettori was blowing away the field and shot to the front of the pack in his 5th race of the day. The liability on this race had amounted to huge sums of money, that really could have had a catastrophic effect on the sustainability of the firms in question. Brands such as Ladbrokes, and Coral had offered special prices on Dettori to win 6 races. The only people cheering in at Ascot racecourse when Dettori slipped out of the winning spots in that fifth race of the day were the bookies.

In a business like betting, a bad day can always be absorbed by the bookmakers. But due to the excitement around Royal Ascot, and the hype growing around Dettori in the build up. The bookmakers were becoming drastically exposed as the bets came pouring in. On a day that many punters made significant victories with favourites winning all over the board, it was a desperate moment in the fifth race of the day as if Frankie had done the impossible, it would have been the biggest payout in bookmaking history. Enough to knock some of the betting brands, including the Royal Ascot partner Betfred completely out of business.

GCV’s trading director James Knight commented on the immense pressure being faced by bookmakers before the fifth race of Frankie Dettori on Thursday afternoon.

That getting beaten was the biggest swing we had seen, clearly if that had won then the number on [Dettori’s sixth ride] Questionnaire would have been completely unprecedented and we are talking an order of magnitude that was several times larger than Annie Power back in 2015.James Knight, GVC, Trading Director

Super Frankie Dettori

It is surely a testament to the great jockey, who always seems to position himself so well and stay out of trouble. Dettori is a man who will always bring a lot of attention, as he has garnered a reputation of persistently performing on big occasions. The William Hill trading room was reportedly going into meltdown after the fourth win on Thursday, with the brand being a £100m company, a Frankie Dettori win in the 5th would have been a severe knock on the chin, that may not have put the brand out of business, but profit warnings would have no-doubt been issued.

The final day of Ascot it seemed bookmakers had learnt their lessons. Punters were heavily banking on lightning striking twice, and bet365 began the days trading by limiting the stake amount on Frankie Dettori multiples. With such a god-like presence in these type of events, nobody can ever rule him out of doing the impossible. His horses are no doubt some of the strongest in the field, but the perseverance and skilful instinct of Frankie Dettori is sublime.

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