Bookmakers picked up the positive points for racing from the sensational clash between Shishkin and Energumene at Ascot on Saturday, even though it may not been the best result for all layers.
The SBK Clarence House Chase lived up to the pre-race billing and more, with Shishkin coming out on top when getting up close home to deny the front-running Irish raider Energumene.
For William Hill it was a bad result, with the 5-6 favourite obliging, but losses were tempered by what a great advert the much-hyped showdown was for the sport.
“Everybody sided with Shishkin. It was a terrible result for us but, having said that, it was quite a short price comparative to other races on the day, so it could have been a lot worse,” said William Hill’s Rupert Adams.
“Most of the big races on television went the way of the favourites. It was just one of those bad, terrible days in the office,” he said.
“You don’t need a huge number of horses in a race to make it exciting.
“I would suggest in the lead up to the Champion Chase in the UK about 85 per cent will be for Shishkin and 15 per cent elsewhere.
“It was a fantastic advert for the sport. All week it was building up to it and I would like to think the gate at Ascot was pretty impressive based on the big showdown. We just need to make the best of it in the lead up to Cheltenham to show people how exciting the sport can be.”
David Stevens, of Coral, felt it gave racing a much-needed shot in the arm.
“It was absolutely fantastic because for once it lived up to the pre-race billing. It was the sort of race we had been crying out for. We all wanted to see a clash like that away from the Cheltenham Festival and I think people would agree we need more of it,” he said.
“As an advert for the sport it was great and for it to live up to it and provide this fantastic spectacle – it’s the best way of selling the sport when you get races like that. It is a race that will be talked about for weeks, months and years to come. From that point of view, the publicity for the sport and the knock-on effect for bookmakers is priceless.”
Having just the four runners did not diminish from the race’s excitement, according to Stevens.
“It would be churlish to complain there were only four runners when you’ve got the big two we all wanted to see,” he said.
“It wasn’t the biggest betting heat of the day, but that doesn’t matter because it offered so much more. It was a race that offered everything and it delivered, which happens so rarely, and it is something we can all celebrate.
“It’s greedy, of course, but it has now whet the appetite for round two.”