Racing: Bookmakers admit 'legal robbery'

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Coral, one of Britain's biggest bookmaking firms said last night that yesterday had been the worst day for punters in the history of betting at the Cheltenham Festival.

After an afternoon when outsiders dominated, David Hood, a spokesman for rival firm William Hill, said: "Punters in the UK and Ireland have left behind the best part of £50m today - as much as the Securitas robbery, only ours is legal!"

Among the big bets recorded on course were wagers of £100,000 and £80,000 on the first race runner-up, Denman, plus £100,000 on Equus Maximus, who trailed home 12th in the final race of the day as punters tried in vain to fight their way out of trouble.