A 58-year-old unemployed welder, Fred Stubbs, failed by a wide margin to get lucky at the races yesterday, when only one of the seven horses he backed in an accumulator romped home in first at Sandown Park. The unremarkable bet was placed in Ladbrokes shop on the High Street in Egham, it has since emerged.
'We like to share fairly typical stories about betting with the world,' said James Stanley, manager of the shop. 'There are occasional instances where punters take us to the cleaners, but what we really need to publicise is the way lots of people lose relatively small amounts. We don't want to make ourselves look complete mugs, do we?'
Stubbs's mundane bet was based on horses randomly selected from the entire card at the meeting, with the winnings reinvested on successive races. Had this happened, his £2 stake would have netted him £1.8 million. Unfortunately, only the fourth horse, Wild Outlaw, came up trumps for him, by which time it was all academic.
The limited poignancy of the occasion was reduced still further by the fact that there was a 10/1 shot in the first race called Lucky Gamble and the favourite in the last was In the Money, at 5/2. However, Stubbs did not back either of them and they finished out of the frame in any case. Despite dog number four coming up for him in the 2.58 at Perry Barr, Stubbs ended up £18 down on his afternoon's betting.
'On the plus side for Fred, he won't starve because the local Tesco is selling beef lasagne at £5 for three,' said Stanley. 'He even joked with me as he left that that's what they should do with all the horses he backs. But it was all good - we won his money, he had the excitement of a flutter. As they say in business, it's a win-win scenario. Well, except for all the shabby alcoholic losers, that is.'