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Bookies braced for perfect storm at Cheltenham

Bookmakers are forecasting record levels of turnover at the Cheltenham Festival this week.

With 27 races over four days in the Cotswolds, the betting industry is braced for the biggest week of the entire year with over £300million set to be gambled.

And with races lasting an average of barely over five minutes each, a staggering £35,000 a second is set to smash bookmaking records, according to Ladbrokes.

Spokesman David Williams said: "Economists who tell us we're in a financial slump have clearly never been to Cheltenham in March.

"The Festival gets bigger each year and the massive sums of money that swill around on-course and online and in shops up and down the land make us go weak at the knees.

"We've only just removed the bandages from last year. It was horrific as all the fancied runners seemed to score. We're desperate for a change of luck."

William Hill fear a payout in excess of £6million if well-known names of Hurricane Fly, Sizing Europe, Big Buck's and Long Run all win the four Championship races again - a feat which has never happened before.

Kate Miller, spokeswoman for William Hill, said: "Cheltenham is the most hotly-anticipated week of racing in the entire year, and the equivalent of Christmas to many grown men!

"The bookies' annual battle with the punters begins in 48-hours but the perfect storm is already brewing against us."

Gold Cup day on Friday could see upwards of £40million gambled on one race alone, with Long Run and Kauto Star set to renew their rivalry.

Williams said: "At the moment we're fearful of Long Run but Kauto Star has an enormous following. If neither of them win bookies will be in rapture."

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