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Big hitters line up huge stakes for Scoop6 tilts 14/11/2008
Greg Wood

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 media too."

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.

Both 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 make pay."
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