The last four races from the major meeting at Cheltenham and two more
at Wetherby are expected to make up the challenge facing punters playing the
Tote's Scoop6 tomorrow, when the dividend for a single winning £2 ticket
could exceed £2m. All six races are due to be fiercely competitive
handicaps, including the 20-runner Paddy Power Gold Cup.
While the final field for Cheltenham's showpiece
chase has now been determined, however, backers must wait until 11am this
morning for the line-ups in the remaining events, since jumps racing has yet to
follow the lead of the Flat with 48-hour declarations for all races, much to
the frustration of Tote executives trying to promote the Scoop6.
"Clearly, if this had been a Saturday in the Flat season, we would know
the final fields for all six races by lunchtime on Thursday," Damien Walker,
the Tote's spokesman, said yesterday. "That would make it significantly easier
to promote the Scoop6, not just in betting shops but in newspapers and other
Nonetheless, with a
record rollover of £1,303,036 in tomorrow's pool, the result of 10
consecutive weeks without an outright winner, there is real optimism at the
Tote that someone will win a life-changing, headline-grabbing sum of money.
To date, the biggest Scoop6 payout for to an individual, small-staking
punter is £878,939, received by Ron Nicholson in April 2004 for a stake
of just £4. The record for a small-stakes punter who also won the bonus
fund the following week is £688,620, paid to Agnes Haddock, who had a
single £2 line in the original pool, in February 2007.
records are certain to be beaten if a single ticket wins tomorrow, since the
bonus fund, paid for selecting the winner of a race chosen by the Tote the
following Saturday, has also been rolling over for many weeks. In all, the Tote
estimates a single winner of both the main fund and the bonus fund would
receive over £2.5m.
The huge rollover will also tempt in
big-staking syndicates looking to cover as many of the options as possible.
Harry Findlay, probably Britain's most famous full-time punter, and
Richard "Scoop6 Squirrel" Brocklebank, both of whom are multiple winners of the
bet, were both starting to plan their latest assaults on the pool yesterday.
"I'm going to have a massive go," Findlay said, "and it's a big relief
for me that it's jumping, after the horror of the Flat races over the last few
weeks. It's a very important play for me on Saturday. I've got a runner at
Cheltenham, but I won't be there. I'll be at home, working on the Scoop6.
"I've got people like Glenn [Gill] who work on the form, then for me
it's all about working out the perms and deciding exactly how much to have on
to get the most value.
"But for me, there's no other rollover bet in
the world to compete with the Scoop6 and I've got no doubt that, whether you
have £2 in there on Saturday or a £40,000 perm, you're going to be
getting value. The only real advantage for a big syndicate like ours is that
you're much more likely to get some money back from the place fund."
Brocklebank, who gained his nickname by dressing as a squirrel to meet
up with other Scoop6 winners prior to a tilt at the bonus fund a few years ago,
is also preparing a significant perm.
"I'd think we might put about
50,000 lines at £2 each, which is our biggest ever stake, but then this
is the biggest ever rollover, so you have got to stake accordingly,"
Brocklebank said yesterday.
"Overall, I'd guess I've made a profit of
about £1m on the Scoop6 now. I used to bet on all sorts of things, but
I've found over the years that this bet and the Jackpot are the only ones I can