Cheltenham Festival: Looking back at the greatest gambling coups


The Cheltenham Festival is going to take place from 12th to 15th March this year. It is without doubt the second biggest horse racing competition after the Grand National. The festival’s increasing importance over time has made this event ‘the place to go’ for off-course betting.

With the sport’s evolution punting has become an integral part of horse racing. There have been some big plunges in the past where the bookmakers were caught off guard and had to pay huge amount of money in losses. This could be your year to win something at the Cheltenham Festival with easy availability of free bets. You can find Cheltenham Free Bets for 2019 here and various other offers like enhanced odds, tips, etc.

Now let’s take a look back at how the greatest gambling coup was pulled off.

Noel Furlong’s massive win in 1991

The story of Noel Furlong’s success at the betting ring in the year 1991 has various layers to it. Destriero, the horse that he owned, unexpectedly won the Supreme Novice’s Hurdle against Granville Again. To put it simply – Furlong was aware of his horse’s potential but the bookmakers and the public were not. Furlong knew that despite winning just a maiden hurdle Destriero’s talent will make him a formidable horse at Cheltenham. That year he won a staggering £ 1.5mn and that too without his odds skyrocketing.

Use of a handicapper

Furlong’s use of The Illiad as a handicapper created a lot of confusion amongst the punters and the bookies. The move was a masterstroke and worked very well in his favour. The bookies panicked by Illiad’s entry and set him at 11/2 to win the Champions Hurdles. However The Illiad failed to win the race and added some more value to Furlong’s already heavy pockets.  Both Destriero and The Illiad served him well at the Grand National too that year.

Furlong was a wanted man

There were signs that Destriero would perform well at the festival but nobody thought he could go on to win. Perhaps if the punters and the bookies had kept note of one key piece of information they could have prevented from losing so much of their money.

The on course odds on Destrerio were floating between 5/1 and 6/1 that year and therefore the people failed to notice the biggest sign and that is Furlong’s presence in Britain. He was in trouble with Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise because of a misunderstanding and was a wanted man during the time of the festival.

He had to pay a sum of around £500,000 to the Customs and Excise department to avoid arrest, which he did. People failed to raise the question as to why would Furlong pay half a million pounds just to be at the festival. Furlong was an excellent and respected poker player and he must have sensed that Destriero’s time has come. He was willing to forego a huge sum of £500,000 because he knew Destriero would earn him much more than that at the races.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here