Top five horse racing bets

Updated 5:39 AM ET, Fri March 15, 2013
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Despite English comedian Arthur Askey's take on horse racing punters, betting is no laughing matter in Britain with more than £12 billion ($18 billion) wagered annually. But what are the legendary gambling stories of the track? John Pratt/Keystone Features/Hulton Archive/Getty Images/File
Enter Irish billionaire businessman JP McManus (left). The property mogul and horse owner and breeder from Limerick is a renowned big better. "A lot of his prize money goes back into the industry -- he keeps so many stables in employment across Ireland and Britain," says Betfair spokesman Barry Orr. Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images/File
McManus is a big player at Britain's Cheltenham Festival. More than $820 million is bet during the four-day meet, second only to the Grand National race. "It's known as the Olympics of jumps racing, with the very best horses from across Europe competing," Orr says. Michael Regan/Getty Images
Irish punters make up around 20% of Cheltenham race goers, helping to create a unique atmosphere of green-clad Guinness-drinking revelry. "They're fearless punters," Ladbrokes bookmaker David Williams says. "Cheltenham without the Irish would be like Sunday roast without Yorkshire pudding." Matt Cardy/Getty Images
The luck of the Irish was certainly on stable boy Conor Murphy's side when he won $1.5 million at last year's Cheltenham Festival. The 29-year-old from Cork placed $75 on famous trainer Nicky Henderson's (right) five horses, winning in an accumulator bet. Andrew Yates/Getty Images/File
Australian media mogul Kerry Packer, pictured here chatting to former Prime Minister John Howard, was a towering figure -- both in statue and business. The billionaire was an infamous gambler who as a young man reportedly lost $10,000 to illegal operators and had to be bailed out by his influential father, Frank Packer. Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images/File
No one could quite believe it when three-year-old colt Donerail won the 1913 Kentucky in a record time of two minutes and four seconds. Least of all the bookmakers who had given him 91-1 odds. It remains the highest odds of any winner in the 137-year history of the race. Ken Levine /Allsport/Getty/File
Jockey Frankie Dettori made history after winning all seven races at Ascot in 1996. "We've been racing thoroughbreds for 300 years and I'm the first one to get there, and good luck to the guy who follows me," he told CNN. Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images/File