Racing: One word on the television, a click of the mouse and the market swings

Come on, be honest. Where was your money? We know where it is now, in the bookies' coffers, but where was it before the Grand National started?

Come on, be honest. Where was your money? We know where it is now, in the bookies' coffers, but where was it before the Grand National started? This Blue Riband of steeplechasing, an arduous four miles four furlongs of boggy, strength-sapping ground, is treacherously difficult, with 30 jumps that provide daunting, yet thrilling obstacles. As the horses leaped the nation's breath was collectively held and all those tenners, lunchtime flutters, inched their way closer to the bookies.

The housewives' favourite race always provides heavily backed runners as those with only a passing interest in the sport are swayed by opinion and chatter. This year the money went on Clan Royal, backed in further than the 10-1 he was hovering at in mid-morning, and Hedgehunter. Both worthy horses, the former with A P McCoy on board and the latter a faller at the last fence 12 months ago. But more interesting was the last minute avalanche of money for Forest Gunner. Maybe a bit of sisterly love as the girls backed Carrie Ford, the jockey.

The rain did little to dampen support for them but for some punters the hard work had started when snow was on the ground months ago, about the same time it did for some of the horses. Positions had been taken, reduced, switched - all in the pursuit of having a no-lose book.

"How?" you cry. The answer is the betting exchanges. Betfair, the largest and rumoured to be considering a stock market flotation worth £700m, started in 2001 and before the race started had matched over £3m. On Betfair, punters - that is you and me - can bet against each other and decide exactly what part of the bet we want. Do we want to back a horse, or oppose it, or lay it, just the same as a traditional bookie does.

In fact many of us do both and that is where betting on exchanges resembles buying and selling shares and, just like that business, there is plenty of rumour.

One lucky chappie (OK, it's me) was fortunate to get very strong advice over a glass or two from the editor of Inside Edge magazine during an award ceremony and backed Nil Desperandum one month ago at 33-1 on Betfair for £20, a potential win of £660. Not a bad bet for a horse who was increasingly favoured in the run-up to the race. But just before the start yesterday he was available to lay (oppose) at 20-1. Another bet, this time a lay of £20 left no loss whatever the result and the possibility of a £260 win. The maths are simple really, the money spent backing was £20 and the money received from laying was £20 so they cancel each other out. What remains is the win if Nil Desperandum wins and the liability if it wins, £660 and £400 respectively.

But it would not be the National without a bet on the day and the price movements during the race provide opportunity, mostly inspired by the television commentary.

"Strong Resolve not too good", was heard at the seventh fence and his price went from 10-1 to 13-1 and then 16-1 in a couple of seconds. The next commentator saw it differently and muttered: "Strong Resolve going well now" and the price whiplashed back in to 11-1 and then straight out again to 14-1 as the commentator added: "Hedgehunter travelling well in fourth."

But it was poor old Clan Royal and McCoy who suffered the most. He was cruising with a five-length lead and a price of 3-1 until stray horses did for him at Becher's second time round. The favourite-in-running was gone, the layers were quids in and Hedgehunter assumed his supremacy on the course and in the market as he shortened from 9-1 to 4-1.

The Chair provided drama as usual as Double Honour pitched on landing. At 20-1 to lay it suggested easy money as such poor jumping would surely never win. A couple of clicks of the mouse later the sharp operators had opposed him, and they were celebrating a minute later when the 21st fence claimed him.

But what about Ford and Forest Gunner. She certainly gave them a run and with three fences to jump she was 8-1 and well placed. But the bet of the day was on Hedgehunter, half-way round and scampering past a forlorn Clan Royal. That 9-1, with a depleted field chasing, was a glorious trade and seen as such by so many on Betfair that he plummeted to 3-1 and lower until the end.

With £3m matched on the race someone other than traditional bookies is laughing all the way to the bank, although probably not you and certainly not me.

Iain Fletcher is author of 'Game, Set And Matched', about betting exchanges.

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Leonardo DiCaprio talks during the press conference for the film
films

Film follows park rangers in the Congo

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
Sport
Adel Taraabt in action for QPR against West Ham earlier this month
footballQPR boss says midfielder is 'not fit to play football'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Systems and Network Administrator

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leicester: We are recruiting for a Systems and ...

English Teacher

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Group: English as an Additional Langua...

Nursery assistants required in Cambridgeshire

£10000 - £15000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...

History Teacher

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Seconda...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album