It was a case of quids in for one lucky Lurgan punter who scooped a whopping £56,000 on a £1 stakes Cheltenham Festival bet this week.
It was a golden moment for the Tommy French customer, when the fifth of five winners on his Lucky 31 bet – Telmesomethinggirl, ridden by Rachael Blackmore – cleared the field by five and a half lengths.
Speaking to Armagh I, Leo Dougan, a manager at Tommy French Bookmakers, said: “It’s amazing. I’m working here 20 years and I haven’t seen five winners like that – he’s £56,000 better off today!”
“With the Lucky 31, normally if one of those horses win it’s your stake returned; two, it’s profit; three and it’s a celebratory win – something like £1,500, but he went through the card and got the five.”
The Co Armagh based bookies said they have been sharing the unfolding drama on their social media and when the fourth horse won, the punter was guaranteed £6,900.
Added Leo: “Once he hit the third one we were like, ‘oh, he’s two off it now’. The thing about it, he had done the hard work earlier in the day; the two later ones were probably shorter in the betting, more towards the favourite end.
“People were like, he’s bound to be happy with the £6,900 but an extra £50,000 could mean that you’re left mortgage free, it can be life-changing.”
Leo, who has been working at Tommy French for 20 years, says the odds of it coming in are “crazy”.
And while one punter goes home happy, it’s usually the case where the bookmaker is a little less so but for a small independent like French’s, there is a silver lining to be extracted.
“It’s a double edge sword,” explained Leo. “It puts a huge dent in our Cheltenham Festival but this is why we do business, for these people. It’s a once in a lifetime bet – that individual may never hit a bet like that ever again.
“When I spoke with the boss yesterday – Tommy – obviously he’s licking his wounds that he lost £56,000 but at the same time, he’s going ‘listen, there’s somebody that I know in the community who is sitting a hell of a lot better off tonight’.
“If you have to lose £56,000 to someone you’d rather it was a good story like that.”
With five stores in Northern Ireland, four of which are in Moira, Lurgan and Armagh, it’s a bookmakers, Leo says, which is “punching above our weight”.
“You go to these bigger firms and you won’t meet the boss – that’s the other side of it. For Tommy, he knows that winner – it’s not just a faceless person to us, which is great.”
Congratulations to the punter who is, no doubting, chomping at the bit to collect!