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Heating engineer wins £1.5m jackpot

Steve Whiteley, a heating engineer from North Devon, hit the jackpot at Exeter when he landed a massive rollover Jackpot courtesy of 12-1 chance Lupita in the final leg.

Over £2million was in the pool, but Black Phantom (12-1), Ammunition (16-1) and Mr Bennett (16-1) had seen off the vast majority of the tickets after the first four races.

When Lundy Sky (5-1) got the better of odds-on favourite Glitzy D’Ocala in the penultimate race the whole bet was down to just £1.

Lupita, trained by Derrick Scott and ridden by Jessica Lodge, who had only ever had one point-to-point winner previously, ground down Only Hope after the last flight in the Upton lakes And Lodges Amateur Riders’ Handicap Hurdle to change winning punter Whiteley’s life forever.

Whiteley, 61, from North Tawton, placed just £2 on the bet and only goes racing once or twice a year - he even got into the track for free.

His total payout on the bet after deductions from the pool by the tote was £1,445,671 - the largest dividend in the Jackpot’s history.

“It’s difficult to say how I came up with them. The first few selections I had two in each race and that was going to cost £32 so I scrapped that,” said Whiteley.

“Why did I pick the last one? Lodge is just a name that sticks in my head. I didn’t know anything about her. I’m not a horse racing man, I only go once or twice a year.

“I’m a heating engineer - well I was!

“I’ve actually won about £300 betting today as well.

“The most exciting bit was after the fourth race when my mate said only seven people in the whole country were still in it. I couldn’t watch the last race.

“I’m shaking like a leaf, I can’t believe it.”

Lodge said: “I’m very pleased for them, it’s brilliant news. Mr Scott told me to leave it as late as possible.

“It’s my first winner under Rules so it’s a nice story all round.”

Jayne Amor, racing manager from the tote, said: “The excitement at the racecourse was unbelievable.

“When we realised it was one ticket it was so exciting, the whole of the tote has been cheering him on.

“He came to us after four races to check if he had been reading his ticket correctly!

“His money will be in the bank tomorrow morning.”

The jackpot had not been won since February 27 at Fontwell.