Packer cleans up

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The Independent Online
Australia's bookmakers are licking their wounds, some of which could be terminal, after Kerry Packer, the media tycoon, walked away with reported winnings of A$5m (pounds 2.1m) on the Melbourne Cup last week, writes Robert Milliken.

Australia's richest man cleaned up from Australia's most famous horse race when he made a last-minute plunge on Might and Power, the winner.

Michael Eskander, a bookmaker who was reported to have lost A$500,000 on three bets laid by Mr Packer, said: "I've never seen anything like it in 20 years. I reckon he's destroyed at least seven bookmakers today. Take my worst day ever as a bookmaker and multiply it by two, and the Cup was worse."

Bill Graham, another bookmaker, said: "I laid the horse to lose $500,000 and then again to lose $450,000."

Mr Packer was not the only cause of the bookies' woes. A big plunge by others on Might and Power shortly before the race started also helped rob them of what is normally one of their most profitable days.

Million-dollar bets are par for the course for Mr Packer, one of the world's biggest gamblers. According to Paul Barry, author of an unauthorised biography of the tycoon: "In London there are now only three or four casinos that can handle him, such are the amounts that he demands to bet in."

Surviving bookies may yet get their revenge: Mr Packer is said to have lost as much as he has won over the years.