Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin together on horseback? Stunned Londoners had to look again when they were met with the vision of the US president and Russian leader appearing to arrive in the capital this morning (13 March), accompanied by an equine friend.

It was — of course — a stunt, organised by bookmaker Paddy Power ahead of jump racing’s biggest week in the calendar, the Cheltenham Festival. The powerful pair visited popular sights in the City including the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace.

And the company behind the London stunt? Paddy Power of course…

The bookmaker has opened up ‘Cheltenham-Political’ betting specials for the first time, having reported turnover on political betting markets is expected to top £10million across the industry in 2017. This figure, however, is furlongs behind the £800million expected to be spent on betting industry-wide during Cheltenham this week (14-17 March).

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Get ready for Cheltenham with H&H:

The betting firm credits the ‘Trump-factor’ for a sharp increase in political bets — with more than £100k of bets staked since Trump took office in the US.

The special ‘Cheltenham-Politics’ bets Paddy Power are offering to punters include: Willie Mullins to be top trainer and Trump to serve a second term (7/2); Ruby Walsh to be top jockey and Trump to be impeached in 2017 (8/1); and Neon Wolf to win the Novices’ Hurdle and Sean Spicer to be sacked in 2017 (20/1).

“With political punting at an all-time high, ‘Vlad’ and ‘The Donald’ seemed more than happy to swap ‘nukes for nags’ ahead of Cheltenham,” said a spokesman for Paddy Power. “We’ve seen a huge surge in political bets since Trump took office and with a big week of horseracing ahead it made perfect sense to offer punters the chance to bet on both.

“In the era of ‘fake news’, Londoners were left flabbergasted at the sight of Putin and Trump together, with one passer-by commenting: ‘We’re used to seeing some spectacles in London but I thought I needed a pair [of glasses] when spotting this.’”

The bizarre stunt was inspired by the famous photos of Putin taken in 2009 which went viral on the internet — they showed the Russian President riding shirtless in Siberia’s Tuva region.

The actors, Karl Greenwood and Doug Devaney, spent more than six hours being made up with prosthetics by a team of Hollywood special effect artists to be transformed into the controversial Presidents. Shame no-one thought to advise the pair on the need for safety headwear.