A heating engineer has won £1.45 million at Tote bet after winning the Jackpot at the Exeter racecourse.

Whiteley – 61 from Devon – visited the racecourse on a free promotion with six friends. Playing an accumulator, in which an individual must correctly predict six winners, he said he had selected his horses randomly.

Said Whiteley: "I'm not a horse-racing man. I'm a heating engineer – well, I was."

Whiteley had initially said he would not retire, claiming: "I'll work till I die." But he seems unsure of this based on subsequent television interviews.

The final horse that sealed the deal was Lupita, ridden by Jessica Lodge. The horse had been beaten in nearly 30 races before her first win for Whiteley.

In all, after deductions from Tote, Whiteley will receive £1,445.671.20 in his bank account this morning.

The payout is the largest in the Tote Jackpot's 45-year history.

When asked what he would do with the money, Whiteley said he and his wife are "going on holiday a week on Friday. We were going to fly cattle class but we might upgrade now."

The win could not have come at a better time, with it being Mrs Whiteley's birthday today. A breakfast television reporter asked him whether he had purchased her a gift yet. When told he had so far bought a card with no gift yet, Whiteley was advised: "I think your wife might be expecting a bit more than she's received from you in the past."

A flight upgrade sounds like a good place to start.