Champion Chase falls from second to 24th in turnover standings
The presence of short-priced favourite Douvan in the Champion Chase turned the two-mile showpiece from one of the liveliest betting heats of the Cheltenham Festival into one of the worst, based on Coral's on-the-day shop turnover.
Having been eclipsed only by the Gold Cup in the past two years, the Champion Chase – in which 2-9 favourite Douvan provided the shock of the week when finishing 7th behind 11-1 winner Special Tiara – fell to 24 in the list of 28 races this year.
Coral spokesman Simon Clare said: "Douvan's prohibitive odds turned one of the festival's biggest betting events into one of this year's weakest. In terms of betting shop stakes, this year it was 24th in the list with only four of the 28 races attracting fewer bets."
TOP FESTIVAL RACES BY BETTING TURNOVER
Day-of-race bets in Coral shops
1 Gold Cup (position in 2016: 1st)
2 Stayers' Hurdle (3rd)
3 Champion Hurdle (4th)
4 Albert Bartlett (6th)
5 Foxhunter Chase (5th)
6 Triumph Hurdle (12th)
7 Grand Annual (7th)
8 Neptune (16th)
9 Coral Cup (10th)
10 Mares' Hurdle (21st)
11 County Hurdle (13th)
12 JLT (22nd)
13 Martin Pipe (11th)
14 Supreme (9th)
15 Plate (19th)
16 RSA (14th)
17 Novice Handicap Chase (23rd)
18 Pertemps (24th)
19 Ryanair Chase (8th)
20 Bumper (20th)
21 Kim Muir (15th)
22 Mares' Novice Hurdle (27th)
23 Cross Country (18th)
24 Champion Chase (2nd)
25 Fred Winter (25th)
26 Ultima (17th)
27 NH Chase (26th)
28 Arkle (28th)
The Arkle has proved to be a similar turn-off for punters, a trend maintained with the appearance of 1-4 shot Altior, who unlike Douvan got the job done. For the second year running it was the lowest turnover race in Coral's list.
"The Arkle performed poorly as a betting race for the third year running with Altior’s long odds-on favouritism putting off punters in the same way that Douvan and Un De Sceaux had in 2016 and 2015," added Clare.
"On the flipside the presence of high-profile favourites at backable prices impacted very positively on staking levels. The Neptune jumped up to the eighth biggest betting event of the week, and the biggest betting race on the Wednesday, thanks to the popularity of Neon Wolf, and Yorkhill had a similar effect on the JLT, which jumped up to 12th from last year's 22nd, while Defi Du Seuil helped the Triumph climb back up to sixth from last year's 12th.
"Even in the handicaps punters respond positively to the presence of a dominant favourite, with the Coral Cup climbing to ninth in the list thanks to the public gamble on Tombstone, who went off 7-2 favourite in the 25-runner field."
With the surprising decision made to allow stablemates Limini and Vroum Vroum Mag to take each other – and Apple's Jade – on, the Mares' Hurdle developed into one of the races of the week and that was reflected in betting activity as the race was a big mover up to ten from 21.
The norm of Friday being the busiest day was reinforced with five of the top seven races staged on the final day and the other two placed 11th and 13th.
Clare added: "As always Gold Cup day was comfortably the biggest betting day of the week but this year Thursday climbed from being the lowest turnover day of the festival to being second thanks to the punter-friendly shape to the races on the day, and the fact that favourites won the first two races prompting punters to reinvest their winnings during the afternoon."