The 5 greatest flat racing gambles that stung Paddy Power

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5) Withhold – 2017 Cesarewitch

Withhold only broke his maiden at Bath on his sixth start when trained by Charlie Hills and owned by Kalid Abdullah. Two runs later he was winning a 2m handicap at Haydock off a mark of 80.

Subsequently purchased by infamous pro-punter Tony Bloom for 170,000 guineas, Withhold was gelded and trained by Roger Charlton. Off the track for nearly a year, he returned to action in a mile and a half handicap at Newbury and ran a really eye-catching race when third to two unexposed types in Daphne and Weekender.

That looked like a perfect prep for the Cesarewitch which was a month later as he could run off the same mark of 87. Priced up at 25/1 after that Newbury run, he was nibbled in the betting in the weeks leading up to the Cesarewitch but could still be backed at 12/1 the night before the race. He opened at 9/1 in the betting in the ring, but then the big punters stepped in and Withhold was hammered in the market in the minutes prior to the off and returned the 5/1 favourite.

Always prominent during the race under Silvestre De Sousa, he let Withhold kick on well over a mile out from the finish and he was not for catching. He powered up to the finish line to win by just under four lengths and in the process land a massive punt for shrewd connections.

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4) Settle For Bay – 2018 Royal Hunt Cup

In keeping with the horses on this list, Settle For Bay was well beaten in three runs in maidens as a two-year-old but reappeared at Leopardstown as a three-year-old in a handicap off a mark of 69. He was kept on the go over the winter on the all weather at Dundalk and won four on the bounce up to January 2018, to see his rating rise from 76 up to 99.

It was around that time that Paddy Power were quoting prices of 100/1 for the Royal Hunt Cup. Support at those fancy prices had him into 20/1 for the race prior to his reappearance at Leopardstown and he ran a lovely prep when not beaten far in fourth place. In the Royal Hunt Cup, Settle For Bay went off a 16/1 shot but coming to two furlongs out, you could see that Billy Lee had loads of horse under him. When Billy pushed the button, Settle For Bay picked up in impressive fashion to run out a good winner and land a fine ante-post punt.

3) Interception – 2015 Wokingham

A maiden winner at Wolverhampton on her third start, Interception won her next two starts in handicaps on the all weather off marks off 70 & 80. Despite a slow start to her four-year-old season, David Lanigan’s runner managed to win a handicap at Lingfield off a mark of 84, before a fine third in a Listed race over 7f at Ascot on her last start of the season.

She reappeared in a Listed event at Haydock over 6f, when beaten over a length in second but that set her up beautifully for a crack at the Wokingham. A general 25/1 shot on the morning of the Wokingham, Interception was very strong in the market on the show and was backed from 16/1 into 10/1 for what is generally an extremely competitive handicap.

Always travelling well within herself in the final third of the field, she picked up well for George Baker when he asked and she ran out a comfortable winner, proving the market support to be correct.

2) Darley Sun – 2009 Cesarewitch

Darley Sun never really troubled the judge in his four starts in maidens but quickly showed his ability once stepping into handicaps and going up in trip.

He was an easy winner of a 1m 6f race at Nottingham off a mark of 69 on his handicap debut and duly won handicaps at Haydock, off a mark of 75, and Ascot off a mark of 83, before stepping up in grade for the Grade 2 Doncaster Cup. Rated 94 heading into that contest, but getting a pretty hefty three-year-old allowance, he was only just touched off by the 110 rated Askar Tau and looked extremely well handicapped heading into the Cesarewitch the following month off the same mark of 94.

Darley Sun was trying to defy the poor win rate of three-year-olds in the Cesarewitch with the last winner aged three coming in 1998. He was a really well-backed favourite, opening 13/2 on the show and punter cash drove the price down to 9/2 in this 32 runner handicap. Those who backed him never really had a moments worry, as he hit the front two furlongs out and powered away to win easily by five lengths and land a nice touch for punters.

1) Laddies Poker Two – 2010 Wokingham

One of the great Royal Ascot gambles. She didn’t make her debut until her three-year-old season, when winning at Kempton first time out. Defeat at Newmarket on handicap debut was quickly followed by an impressive Ascot win over six furlongs off a mark of 91. She again met with defeat at Newmarket at Listed level and missed the whole of 2009 due to a setback.

Laddies Poker Two was readily available at 25/1 at the beginning of the week, coming off the back of nearly 18 months off the track but was the subject of steady support all week and went off just 9/2 despite the long absence. Racing on the stands side, she came with a strong run in the final furlong under Johnny Murtagh to win going away and land a monstrous gamble.

She never raced again but punters still remember her fondly.

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