Why is a ‘Yankee’ bet so-called?

A ‘Yankee’ bet is, of course, is a full cover, multiple bet, which combines four selections, in four different events, in six doubles, four trebles and a four-fold accumulator, making eleven bets is total. Some sources suggest that the name of the bet is derived from the traditional, informal meaning of ‘Yankee’ – that is, a native or inhabitant of the United States of America – and cite a convenient, but probably apocryphal, account of an American GI who made a substantial profit from placing such as bet at some unconfirmed point in history.

However, it seems much more likely that the name of the bet was derived from an Australian nuance of ‘Yankee’, once again meaning ‘American’, but in the sense of ‘equal for all’. The word ‘Yankee’ appears in the expressions ‘Yankee shout’, meaning a social outing in which everyone pays for themselves, and ‘Yankee tournament’, meaning a sporting contest in which everyone plays everyone else, which date from the mid-twentieth century. It follows that ‘Yankee’ should also be used to describe a multiple bet in which each horse is coupled, in doubles, trebles and an accumulator with every other horse in the bet.

Why are odds of 33/1 known as ‘double carpet’?

In the heyday of the on-course betting ring, the job of the tic-tac was to convey information to his, or her, bookmaker, by means of a series of coded arm movements. Odds of 33/1 were conveyed by crossing the arms and placing the hands flat on the chest. Verbally, odds of 33/1 were and, in some cases, still are, called out as ‘double carpet’, which, like the arm movements, was intended to keep the information secret from anyone not ‘in the know’.

Betting ring vernacular often draws on sayings and slang including, but not limited to, backslang and Cockney rhyming slang, for its inspiration and ‘double carpet’ is no exception. In criminal, or prison, slang dating from the nineteenth century, the term ‘carpet stretch’ meant three months’ imprisonment; three months was reputedly the length of time required by an inmate to to weave a carpet or mat for his cell in the prison workshop. Thus, in the betting ring, odds of 3/1 became known as ‘carpet’ and, naturally enough, odds of 33/1 became known as ‘double carpet’.