For some it’s a ritual that is a necessity at a day of racing, for others it’s a bit of fun. Either way, the Placepot has a special place in the hearts of many horse racing punters however seriously they take it.
Offering punters the chance to win big from small stakes without even having to predict the winner of a single race, the Placepot continues to be as popular as ever. Everybody who places their bet is hoping that they will be the last ticket remaining, spurred on by legendary punting stories of big wins from the history of the Placepot.
In this article we take a quick look at exactly what the Placepot is and how it works, before looking back and picking out some of the biggest wins over the years. So, whether you are a Placepot newbie wanting to know more about this tempting bet, or an old hand just interested in the biggest wins ever, you are in the right place.
What is the Placepot?
The Placepot is one of several bets offered by the Tote for British, Irish and international horse racing. It can be placed directly with Tote outlets at tracks, or online, or with the many other online bookies who offer Tote-affiliated wagers. When placing a Placepot bet, your task is to pick a horse to place in each of the first six races of a given meeting. If all six of your chosen horses finish inside the places in their races, you will win a share of the Placepot dividend.
As with any place-related bet, the number of places will vary from race to race depending on the number of runners and the type of contest. Unlike a normal bet on a horse though, the returns from the Placepot are not calculated on the odds of the runners. Instead, the Placepot money goes into a pool which is split between the winners. Therefore, the more bets are placed, the bigger the winnings.
For the same reason, the fewer winners of the Placepot there are, the bigger the share of the pot will go to each of the winners. In the quest for a bigger payout, many punters will look to take the favourites on in the Placepot as a beaten favourite can take out a large chunk of the remaining winning tickets.
It is possible to hedge your Placepot bets by adding extra lines to your bet (known as perming). This is a popular approach, especially when there is a race with a big field on the card in question, which makes things more challenging for punters.
As with any bet, it is important to understand the Placepot rules of your bookmaker of choice before placing a bet. For example, the minimum stake per line and also for the entire bet, can change from bookmaker to bookmaker. That said, the payout is standardised and is based on how much money is wagered on the market in total, and what proportion of that won.
The beauty of the Placepot is that it gives punters the chance to win big returns from just small stakes. As we have seen, the size of the prize changes subject to the size of the pool and the number of winners. The average Placepot prize, according to Tote, is £407. Several lucky punters have seen much bigger returns than that though. Here are some of the biggest Placepot wins of all time.
£182,568 Winner – Cheltenham 2019
The Cheltenham Festival is manna from heaven for punters who enjoy the Placepot. Not only is the quality of racing unmatched in the British jumps racing season but there you are virtually guaranteed a huge prize fund. Add into it the chance for some upsets and you have a recipe for a potentially life changing Placepot win.
That’s exactly what one lucky punter achieved during the 2019 Cheltenham Festival. They scooped a prize of just over £180,000 after a day of shocks thinned the number of winning tickets out considerably with almost every race. The winning punter, a Cheltenham Festival regular who takes a coach trip to the meeting every year, was not the only winner but he was the biggest as he had a £2 total stake while several others had winning tickets for 40p, 20p and 10p.
The win came on the first day of the festival and included bets on Klassical Dream (6/1), Duc Dees Genievres (5/1), Beware The Bear (10/1), Melon (20/1), Stormy Ireland (7/1) and 2022 Gold Cup hero A Plus Tard (5/1). Remarkably, all but two of those horses actually won their races while some big-name favourites on the day, such as Buveur d’Air and Apple’s Jade failed to live up to their billing.
£63,284 Dividend – Newmarket 2003
Middle Park Stakes Day is a popular day of racing at Newmarket but it’s never been the sort of meeting at which you’d expect history to be made. Tote history was very much made at the 2003 edition though as records were broken for the Placepot as well as the Quadpot and Jackpot.
From a racing perspective it was the performance of Ouija Board in the opening race that had the biggest impact. She came third at a very nice price of 20/1, catching the eye before going on to win the following year’s Oaks and Irish Oaks. She was included in one of the perms of an on-course punter who ended the day with the only winning Placepot ticket and thus the full £63,284.30 dividend.
£91,774 Dividend – Cheltenham 2015
The 2019 win at the Cheltenham Festival was the biggest prize won by an individual punter with the Placepot but the size of the dividend was slightly higher four years earlier. Picking winners on the final day of the 2015 Cheltenham Festival was incredibly difficult. So difficult in fact that the Placepot dividend at the end of racing was a massive £91,774.50.
It proved to be a day of racing about which confident predictions could not be made. This was reflected by the fact that no single punter had a full stake paid out on the Placepot. Instead, the dividend was won by a total of 1.25 winning stakes spread out between multiple winners.
While the returns for a 10p or 20p stake were nowhere near as big as the record win in 2019, they still amounted to four figures for anybody whose ticket was still standing at the end of a day of racing where the bookies largely left the track with smiles on their faces.
£51,326 Dividend – Southwell 2015
The spring of 2015 was a good time for punters who like to bet on outsiders. Just a month after the huge dividend at the Cheltenham Festival there was another at Southwell in a much smaller meeting.
The awful performance of the favourites during the day’s action at the Nottinghamshire venue meant that punters’ tickets were dropping like flies right from the off. Across the six races there were no winning favourites and in fact only two of the market principles managed to finish inside the places.
Although there was no individual winner with a full £1 stake, the 1.3 winning tickets which remained all scooped a large proportion of the £91,403.54 pool.
£96,266 Winner – Cheltenham 2018
It is no surprise that the Cheltenham Festival features so prominently in the list of the biggest Placepot winners. This huge win of just under £100,00 for one punter came on Gold Cup Day, traditionally the biggest day of the festival from a betting perspective.
Although there were a couple of upsets in the racing on the final day of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, 28 winning tickets remained. The biggest win of the lot came from a punter called Patricia Ryall. Her £3 ticket was on Mr Adjudicator (8/1), Chesterfield (16/1), Santini (11/4), Native River (5/1), Pacha Du Polder (25/1) and Blow By Blow (11/1).
Speaking to the media afterwards, Ryall was asked whether this was her biggest ever win at a racecourse to which she responded: “Biggest win? It’s my only win!” It goes to show that you only need to be lucky once with the Placepot.
£50,000 Winner – Aintree 2016
Sometimes it pays to have courage in your convictions. While many of the biggest Placepot winners were the recipient of a lot of fortune returning big from their small stakes, Paul Wrathall’s £50,000 win was boosted by his stake of £5. That’s still relatively small in general putting terms but a substantial wager on the Placepot.
The vast majority of Placepot punters stake £1 or less so Wrathall must have had a fair amount of confidence about his horses on Ladies’ Day at Aintree’s Grand National Meeting in 2016. Staking £5 gave him five winning returns of the dividend of around £10,000.
Wrathall, who reportedly had only heard about the Placepot after a friend won a couple of hundred pounds from it, struck gold to the chagrin of so many punters who have played the Placepot for years without anything like as much luck. You’ve got to be in it to win it of course and with wins like these, it is easy to see why so many punters love the bet where you can win huge sums without even having a real winner!