Grand National: Bookies face £50m hit as cash floods in for AP McCoy
It's being billed as a race like no other.
And with the added McCoy factor, bookmakers are bracing themselves for a potential £50m hit should the champion jockey win the world's most famous horse race, the Grand National.
With the soon-to-be 20-time champion jockey AP McCoy announcing his retirement in February and saying he would quit on the spot if he won, interest in today's 4.15 at Aintree has reached untold levels.
McCoy's ride, Shutthefrontdoor, is widely expected to feature on the vast majority, if not all, of punters' betting dockets.
Bookmakers are predicting a starting price of around 4-1, something not seen since the heyday of Red Rum 40 years ago.
"It's colossal," said Hayley O'Connor of Ladbrokes.
"People just flock to McCoy and the sentiment behind the betting for today is just immense.
"He has been a real punters' friend over the years, certainly not one of the bookmakers'."
She added: "What he has put himself through over the years is just incomprehensible.
"He's broken every bone in his body, every tooth in his head and done it all on just sugary tea and a few jelly beans.
"Anyone who brings the magic and gets people involved in the sport is always good and we welcome them."
Locally, A McClean's Bookmakers is predicting a £1m loss should the champion jockey take the victory.
Managing director Paul McLean added: "It's an absolute fairytale.
"With owner JP McManus and his original trainer Jonjo O'Neill - that's the winning combination.
"He is the greatest jockey of all time and no one will ever get close to his achievements, ever.
"To win today will be fantastic for racing, fantastic for Northern Ireland and fantastic for everyone - except us.
"But you can't begrudge him it for all he has done."
Felim Mac An Iomaire, of Paddy Power bookmakers, said they were preparing for the worst single horse race loss in history.
He said: "There is nothing like the Grand National. It's the biggest day of the year for us, nothing trumps it.
"But with it being McCoy's last, we haven't seen anything like it and it is just going to get busier the closer we are to the off.
"We are expecting around 700,000 placing bets in just the hour before the race. It's unheard of.
"And sure if anyone deserves to give the bookmakers a bloody nose it's McCoy.
"Sure he has done some 4,000- odd times already."
However, the only thing the bookies fear more than a McCoy win, is a "Big Mac double" over the weekend.
Mr McLean said: "The only thing worse than McCoy wining is McIlroy getting the green jacket.
"That double has been running at 66-1 all week."
McCoy’s Grand National form
When AP McCoy sets off in today's Grand National at Liverpool's famous Aintree racecourse it will be for a record-breaking 20th time.
The 40-year-old has amassed an incredible 4,356 wins in his career. However, only one has been in the National.
At the 15th time of asking, he took home the joint favourite, Don't Push It, in 2010.
Of his other 18 rides, he has ridden the favourite seven times, finished third five times and fallen six times.
McCoy said: "The Grand National is the most famous race in the world. I'd love to win it again."