Watch an interview with the Jackpot winner
Small-stakes racegoer scoops £1.4m Jackpot
A SMALL-stakes racegoer at Exeter bagged himself £1.4m when scooping Tuesday's monster Tote Jackpot after Lupita, the only horse covered in the final leg of the bet, recorded a narrow victory.
Steve Whiteley, a heating engineer from NorthTawton in Devon, came forward to claim the life-changing sum of money, which was won from just a £2 bet.
Whiteley's winning dividend was declared at £1,445,671.71, the largest in Tote Jackpot history.
Interviewed on At The Races in the immediate aftermath of his staggering windfall, Whiteley, who had no idea of the size of the dividend and had never played the bet before, said: "I got in free with a promotional ticket and decided to have a go at the Jackpot.
Triumphant: Steve WhiteleyPICTURE: Phil Mingo
"I had two horses in each race butthat came to £32 and I said 'no thank you' when I got to the window and ripped it up. I then reduced the bet and had another go."
It later transpired that Whiteley, 62 next month, had not used any specific strategy to select the winners.
He said: "Mr Bennett [leg four] was a name that stood out to me and then in the last Lodge [the jockey's surname] is a name that hangs in my head, but I didn't know the horse hadn't won in its last 26 races!"
He added: "After the fourth leg Kevin [a friend] said there were only seven tickets left, then after the fifth leg it was just my ticket. I could not watch the last race."
A spokeswoman from the Tote revealed that Whiteley had come forward after the fourth leg to check he was reading his ticket correctly.
She added: "It is amazing that a small punter has won from a small stake. It is brilliant for the Tote but also for Exeter and we have all been cheering the bet on all afternoon.
"He was rather nervous during the last and watching through one eye."
Asked about his plans for the future, Whiteley said: "I'm a heating engineer- well I was. No I will probably keep working but no I won't be buying a racehorse."
The Jackpot pool had reached £2,035,538 by the start of the first leg at 2.30pm, the third biggest in the history of the bet.
However, big-priced winners, including two at 16-1, meant only seven units remained after leg four and that was reduced to one final unit after 5-1 chance Lundy Sky upset 5-6 favourite Glitzy D'Ocala in the penultimate leg.
That set up a fascinating finale, with hopes resting on Lupita, a seven-year-old mare, whose last victory came on the Flat at Bath in 2008, when trained by Brendan Powell.
The winner, trained by Derrick Scott and ridden by Jessica Lodge, who herself had not previously won a race under rules, looked likely to come out second best as Only Hope strode on between the last two hurdles, only for Lupita to bravely battle back for a remarkable win.