The Cheltenham Festival is – and has always been – one of the most highly anticipated events of the sporting calendar and an important period for Flutter’s UK and Ireland division from a customer acquisition and trading point of view.
A horseracing meeting like no other, this year saw over 280,000 enthusiastic fans return to the beautiful Cotswolds to watch the cream of British and Irish national hunt racing, each visitor excited to have a flutter after the festival was managed behind closed doors and largely viewed from home last year.
And what a week it was. Across the four days, Flutter’s three flagship UK and Irish brands - Paddy Power, Sky Bet and Betfair – took over 40m bets in total, however it was the punters that came out on top as several big-name favourites all came in across the four days.
In Tuesday’s opening race, Constitution Hill’s impressive win in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, cost the sponsor of that race, Sky Bet, just over £5m, while Rachel Blackmore’s historic Gold Cup victory on A Plus Tard – the first female jockey to win arguably the biggest race in the sport – saw Paddy Power pay out close to £2.5m as the week drew to a close.
With so many favourites getting the job done, it was inevitable that a few accumulators were bound to come in, with one lucky Sky Bet customer winning a 10,000/1, seven horse multiple that netted them over £35,000 from just £3.50. There were also two winners on the Sky Bet sponsored ITV7 prize during the week, one receiving £100,000 on Tuesday and the other a massive £500,000 after selecting all 7 correct horses on Friday.
However, punters didn’t have it all their own way. There were almost 1m bets across our three main UK&I brands on Shiskhin – the most popular choice of the week – for Wednesday’s Queen Mother Champion Chase, with sighs of relief throughout the business when Energumene went on to claim a famous win.
Elsewhere, Paul Townend was the well backed for the top jockey despite being a clear favourite, with just over 6m bets across our UK&I division. Predictably, Willie Mullins was the most bet on trainer throughout the festival, beating Irish rival Gordon Elliot and notably attracting more money than all of the English trainers combined – by a multiple. Across our three brands, over 60% of volumes were on Irish trained horses and that gap in class was the main reason behind Ireland taking home the Prestbury Cup 18-10.
Finally, just ahead of Friday’s Gold Cup, teams across our UK&I division worked hard to manage a flurry of bets, with a high of 35,000 bets processed per minute in the build-up to the centrepiece race.
Reflecting on a fantastic week of racing, Flutter’s Chief Trading Officer Dominic Crosthwaite commented: “While Flutter’s business continues to change at pace, Cheltenham remains one of the most anticipated sporting events of the year and a great opportunity for our UK brands to showcase their leading product and customer offers. It may have been a volatile week for the bookies, however we were very pleased at our ability to seamlessly execute around 40m bets over the course of the four days, which is testament to the good work and capabilities of our risk, trading and technology teams.”
About Flutter Entertainment plc:
Flutter Entertainment plc (the “Group”) is a global sports-betting and gaming company reporting as four divisions:
UK & Ireland: includes Sky Betting and Gaming, Paddy Power, Betfair and Tombola brands offering a diverse range of sportsbook, exchange, gaming and bingo services across the UK and Ireland, along with over 600 Paddy Power betting shops in the UK and Ireland.
Australia: the Sportsbet brand offers online sport betting and is the Australian market leader.
International: includes PokerStars, Adjarabet, Betfair and Junglee operating in multiple jurisdictions around the world offering a diverse range of sportsbook, exchange and gaming services.
US: includes FanDuel, TVG, Stardust, FOX Bet and PokerStars brands, offering regulated real money and free-to-play sports betting, online gaming, daily fantasy sports and online racing wagering products to customers across various states in the US.