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Bookies are set for a record weekend as Grand National, Masters golf and crunch Premier League match look set to bring tide of punters

Posted on April 08, 2022

Bookies are gearing up for a record-breaking weekend with bets on tomorrow’s Grand National alone expected to top £150million.

As well as the flagship horse race at Aintree, other big events include golf superstar Tiger Woods’s return in the Masters in the US, and Manchester City’s crunch game against Liverpool in the Premier League title race.

Bookies had a bumper few days with the Cheltenham Festival last month, but are said to be having ‘sleepless nights’ over the prospect of last year’s National winner Rachael Blackmore successfully defending her title.

Her feat, as the first woman to win the race, cost the industry a fortune as thousands of small-time punters had a flutter.

Industry figures said the reopening of betting shops has set the stage for a bumper weekend of gambling on sport.

And the combination of the Grand National with the crucial Premier League fixture and the Masters could see the industry take bets worth a total of £200million.

Around half of people in the UK and Ireland place bets on the Grand National, with the average stake last year around £2.50.

Many back the favourites, but some choose those with outstanding names and one attracting interest this year is 25/1 Run Wild Fred.

Ladbrokes has slashed the odds on Blackmore and her horse Minella Times from 14/1 to 10/1, putting her among the favourites ahead of the race.

Nicola McGeady of Ladbrokes said: ‘Rachael Blackmore and Minella Times are the Grand National dream team and the thought of her making it a double is giving our traders sleepless nights.

‘There is no doubt it will be a tough ask to win the race again, but as far as punters are concerned, nothing is too tough for Blackmore.’

Ms McGeady added that this Saturday will be the ‘busiest day of the year’ as the major events collide.

She said: ‘With betting shops back open for the race this year, we are going to be extremely busy. Add into the mix the clash between Manchester City v Liverpool plus the Masters at Augusta, and this weekend has all the ingredients to attract record turnover.’

It comes as Ladbrokes owner Entain said gamblers are returning to in-person betting and revenue is 31 per cent higher than this time a year ago, for the three months to March 31.

Online revenue at Entain, which also owns Coral, has fallen 8 per cent from last year, but revenue in its 2,500 shops has jumped back to within 5 to 10 per cent of pre-Covid levels.