Douvan – or not Tourun

We’ve somehow come to expect as normal the practice of avoidance in racing. Potentially the sport’s biggest star will sit out this week’s Tingle Creek. Not because of ground concerns, low sun, or an eclipse of Jupiter’s 3rd moon. Quite simply there are other opportunities for the horse and a clash with Un De Slow doesn’t appeal to Willie Mullins. Willie simply doesn’t race his best stock against each other. Period.

Now, when I scream the place down about said policy, I’m met with three responses. The sheep say nothing. There are those that have made money backing Willie’s charges who will hear no wrong because he’s lined their pockets. And there are those who fundamentally disagree with this trio of self-serving individuals.

Namely Mullins, Ricci, and Walsh.

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Of course, nobody should be surprised at Rich Ricci. The flamboyant banker who’s trousered a great deal of our money, now sees a cheap opportunity to dominate a sport. And for him it is pennies. On ATR’s excellent ‘on the line’ show – Chapman gently chided Ricci on his tactics. Douvan and the Gold Cup was briefly discussed. You could see Rich visibly wincing at the prospect of risking his star against the likes of Thistlecrack.

Let’s fairly the blame for racing’s issues with top races not fulfilling their potential squarely at the foot of these men. Fine Mullins can train, Walsh can ride, Rich can bank the odd cheque. Those of you thinking they’re heroes for delivering us such quality animals, consider this. Were the likes of Douvan, Annie Power, Faugheen, Arctic Fire or the ill fated Vautour owned by differing persons, as opposed to the hands of one man, would we be more or less likely to see at least three of these performers in the one race – the Champion Hurdle, where they clearly should be competing? Did the trio not pull out Vautour from his intended target, claiming he hadn’t worked sufficiently well, yet to place him in the far lesser Ryanair to provide yet another opportunity for the lads to stand on the podium?

I note Ricci persuaded his own betting company to refund Vautour gold cup backers, after he maintained GC was the no 1 target. Those who wagered with other companies appeared less lucky. Perhaps Rich you should refund them?

Imagine you were an owner targeting your mildly lesser animal for the Mares race and Annie Power turns up, or Vautour in the Ryanair. How are such important sponsors of the sport advantaged, encouraged? Would you expect to face the Champion Hurdler elect? It’s time for Cheltenham to impose a ceiling in ratings on the participation of certain horses in such events, for the sake of those essential smaller owners, and yes competitiveness.

Who recalls Ruby Walsh’s indignant stance on Channel 4 when I dared to criticise the policy on Quevega, and her participation in a race several grades below her potential. A grade one winning mare running in the lowest rated race. A sham and no mistake.

Cast your mind back just a few years. If Paul Nicholls were to adopt similar policy, we would never have been treated to Neptune Collonges vs Kuato Star vs Denman so many times. It simply would not have happened

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If the leading jump owner of our generation, the amiable and shy JP MacManus, adopted said policy, many races over a decade would have been trashed. To be fair a great deal of racing’s top owners, Sheikh Mohammed, Abdullah, Magnier, and O Leary have provided exactly that- competition. They race their horses in the grade appropriate to their ability.

If Lewis Hamilton dropped to Formula 3, or Andy Murray to the challenge tour, surely you’d think that odd? If you bought a ticket to see Manchester United and Alex Ferguson declared they could only play Liverpool in the cup final, refused to play anyone but Scunthorpe and kept Giggs and Cantona on the bench-  would you not have been angered by his lack of ambition?

For these reasons, the denial to the sport from this trio of racing their best in the correct race or grade has to be criticised, and often. I’m thoroughly tired of those fawning to individuals so bent on self at the expense of the sport. Douvan will head to Cork in a meaningless exercise. Once again the regulator(s) are failing the sport in allowing promotion seeking owners to work the system. No grade 1 horse should be permitted in such lesser grades. It weakens the fabric of ownership, competitiveness and betting turnover.

When I read of Ruby Walsh, a genius in the saddle, but sour as a lemon out, telling bookmakers what nonsense it is to offer Douvan at 5/1 for the Tingle Creek,  I genuinely wonder if he realises just what a giant hypocrite he is. One of the architects of avoidance in the sport. Part of the problem, telling us we’re fools because we can’t second guess his team. He’ll jump off Douvan to ride Un De Sceaux, by the way.

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The solution is to tell Ruby Walsh to do his talking in the saddle.

Incidentally, if you had £20 on Douvan at 5/1 to win the Tingle Creek – you’d lose £20. His next outing will be at 1/8 odds at Cork. If you joined the gamble, to whatever level, you’ve lost your money. And the blame for that lies squarely at the door of Mullins. He declared the horse right up to the last hour.If you backed Un De Sceaux at 4/1, I fancy you’re kissing Willie’s backside.

If you bought a ticket at Sandown expecting to see one of these great stars turn up, you’re likely disappointed. I welcome the decision of Michael O Leary to remove his team from WM, it can only serve racing. Fans mean less to this trio than a podium in March, and it’s time to call them out, not apologise for, tactics so damaging to the sport.

National Hunt – a code in crisis

Racing fans comprise four sets of folk. The outraged form 49% (A). This group won’t hear speak or listen to any criticism of the sport, they either work for a racetrack, punt favourites over the jumps, or sit indoors with the curtains shut.. The disaffected, numbering 50% (B), a group whose numbers rise annually and constitute the biggest moaners in Racing. Escapees from the Betfair forum, sitting in their underpants at home whining about getting on. The third group go Racing, but only view it from corporate boxes, don’t drink beer, miss all the fights and haven’t a clue what’s really going on outside the box. (Group Q) Excuse merchants, apologists and evangelists form another strange sect (Group E). Then we have a small section of disaffected journos and pundits who’d better shut up or else (X)

The final 1% work for the BHA (Z). The persecuted ones. They would join St Peter being crucified upside down.

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The executive are selected by the racetracks on rolling three year contracts. The current Chairman knew less about Racing than my cat when he arrived, presided over some notable fails like Mathew Lohn, then quietly and ‘humbly’ voted into another 3 year term..

Now tell me – why would you vote to Chairman someone who knew so little about the sport? Why did he then go about the removal of a more experienced board in favour of amateurs with equal skill level? Why are commitees informed a reduction in the programme is ‘off the table?’

Is the regulator looking after the interests of racing, or is the system of election of the Chairman dependent on what he does for  racetracks? Chairman of the BHA isn’t akin to golf club captaincy.

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Look, I know you all think I hate the BHA (Group Z). Come come now, I’m not that bad really, honestly. I’ve made clowns of them once, but I’d like to think their decisions were based on regulating and promoting the sport, not battling bookmakers for cash. Truth is the BHA  (Z) hierachy is never going to act for Racing for as long as the tracks sit on the board and appoint the leaders.

Turkeys rarely buy Xmas cards. More galloping about the ovals keeps the track bosses in tweed and BHA execs in badges. Kempton makes more money than any other JCR track (Group A) – except Cheltenham. Pop there on a Wednesday night and you’d swear the gates had been locked shut. It subsists on an attractive Levy payment for every race. Three runners or fifteen, its all gravy.

The swing to sandpits, to include the gothically dull Newcastle straight (A), needs runners from the available horse population, and owners. If you’re a prospective jump owner, up against wannabee’s like Rich Ricci (Q and E), forking out hundreds of thousands a horse, – you can afford 65 pence a purchase. Ricci stables his muckers the Mullins pad, coffee machine, babestation and minibar in every box. Regular owners on limited budgets can’t compete nor cover the exxes. And your trusty milker can only hack around 5 or 6 times a year. On the all weather, chances are you’ll do better. Even if you’re the only one interested if it wins..

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It is a matter of pure fact belting out sand races at the rate of 3 meetings a day harms the winter code. Is there any chance a whole summer of jumps nobody cares about is a pointless exercise, for everyone except Plumpton? Or have i taken leave of my Scottish mind?

Jump Racing sacrificed on the altar of an engorged BHA all weather list . Months of 4 and 5 runner events. It’s not on, and time you fans stood up and demanded change.

This year, and with apologies the excuse merchants (E), the fields in jump racing have never been so poor. 3 and 4 runner events abound. When they’re strung out for 465 yards, this is what sporting people (B) call ‘uncompetitive’or ‘dull’- unless that is you like Formula one

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The ground isn’t firm. It’s good racing ground, so stop telling me a its akin to a bed of nails to a horse. Indeed they’ve been running all summer. And when the ground is good in April at Aintree – they’ll be running, this is what explodes the myth about ground..There’s simply too much racing and too few runners to support the code and it cannot roll on for 3 or 4 months in this vein every year, whilst we all sip champagne in our box, waiting on Cue Card. A couple of weeks ago we had 19 runner fields at Doncaster on the flat. 7/1 the field and 1/4 the odds if you’re a betting man. Competitive, and attracts people to watch on telly. Yesterday I watched Lydia Hislop (X) trying to make Wincanton sound interesting. She should have been awarded a DSO..

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So Mr Harman and Mr Rust (Q E and Z) I know the issue of racing volume gets dull, but that’s because you refuse to accept it’s a failed system..  I fully accept your jobs depend on the goodwill of masters more interested in Levy than bums on seats. I’m staring at a Kempton card with 3 three runner races and a Carlisle card with a 2 runner heat. It’s your turn in the chair and you’ve got two years left to save a code so many love before you’re replaced by the fellahs who run Southern Rail (Q).

This is a sport very much in crisis, and you are tasked to act in the interests of the sport as a whole, even if the Trustees are more interested in levy grants. Do better than serve out your time and a 0.1 runner increase per race per year. We’ll all be pushing up daisies by the time you start delivering.

 

Or am I being too diplomatic??

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ps. If you want to earn money from Betting, try enforcing a minimum margin on operators in return for hefty levy rate reductions. Not a tip you’ll get from the current crop of non execs..

Banks.(X)

That Approved Betting Partner thingy explained..

Hypothetical question from the floor at the Paddy Power share holders conference..
‘Mr Chairman, are we members of the BHA Approved Betting Partner thingy?’
‘Err, not quite yet, our mates at Betfair gave it a bash, but we’re not sure..’
‘ah, ok, right then. How much does it cost to be a member?’
‘The execs want 5 million in small denomination notes, in a brown envelope left in the toilets at Wiltons’
‘ehm, I see, what do we get for the cash?’
‘Well, let me explain, they say we get to spend another million on sponsoring 4 runner races at Ludlow and so forth, pay for wifi, maybe a betting shop, that kind of thing.’
‘Is that in the 5 million??’
‘Oh, ehm (consults) – no, they just say we get to spend the million. And we get a super G man badge for adding our name to the list.’
‘Anyone famous on the list???’
‘No’
‘Do we get invited to any racetrack parties?!??’
‘No, that’s for toffs not spivs’
‘Well,’ (looks puzzled) ‘~ Do we get a great deal on that Levy thingy when that comes up??!~?’
‘No’
‘I see. Well, why don’t we just take the 6 million in a dividend..?’

Big doesn’t have to be better – out of bed.

Bet365 don’t put bread on my table. Truthfully they’ve eroded margin with their volume approach to such an extent, the other supergiants are clubbing together to survive their onslaught. Even selling their shops at firesale value..
So Denise Coates is a clever cookie, because she’s got them all on the run. Respect to Denise, well done girl. Less for your terrible record on social responsibility, complicated terms and conditions, and bombarding my children with Ray Winstone. Grotty little man

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So you’ll understand, as a small operator in comparison to 365, their policies, and those of my on course colleagues with their stupid myopic focus on betting exchanges, that my margin as a business has never been lower.
If you went by social networking – or took the view of the well intentioned and purposeful ‘punters forum’ – you’d believe the whole world cannot get a bet. Ask punters who is getting restricted – chances are only the restricted bother to respond. That’s not to say the discussion isn’t worthwhile- it’s just the proportion is deeply flawed.
Of course, restrictions are not true to the extent portrayed. Most of my punters enjoyed a proper bet and are never restricted. You don’t need gimmicky outfits like Black Type if you’re not trading away, however you do it.  I’m not alone in offering top value alternatives, because I know I have done. Richard Power, Star and Fitzdares all lay a fair bet – but we don’t get any copy because we don’t fund the newspapers or TV networks. Understandable, but not exactly balanced. Why aren’t you betting with us? Because we don’t understand ‘free bet’ concepts. Hmmmm? You’re all about a freebie if you’re betting with Paddy.

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Is the issue of restrictions on the increase? Of course it is. Looking at personal views provided by over 600 of my customers recently i’d say 5% of them talked about the issue of restrictions. It is on the increase. However, it’s interesting such comments were often allied to an honest acceptance many bet if the odds are as good as top of the market, and only if they are. Punters therefore accept they wager with firms based on odds, and are far less loyal than in the days of telephone betting and pre internet.

Large concerns don’t help matters – Coral are perhaps the fairest in shops with a guarantee commensurate with their size. However most firms offers are indeed restricted, as are morning price specials aimed at racing TV networks and so forth Yet you sign up in your thousands for this service. Why should Denise give a fig what you say if you sign on the dotted line?
Look at the Racing Post, Oddschecker, Bestbetting and more- all sites funded by the failing big betting giants. They’re not clubbing together because they’re doing too well. Pull up a race and these websites tell you who to wager with. You can make the bookmaker overbroke. and some of the bettors do exactly that.

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Look at 365 on a Saturday. They price check every firm. That’s untennable. They give you a bonus for depositing, a bonus for winning, refunds on occasion when you lose.  Finally they offer best odds guarantee, the daftest, dumbest, most mind numbing creation ever to hit bookmaking. They’ve removed the gamble of early price taking, err what why? what on earth were you thinking?
Fine, so big betting has lost its head. They’re guaranteed to lose at every major racing festival, they’re sacking staff, closing shops. Then their chairman whine about it after, you have to laugh at their incompetence in trying to beat 365 at their own game. 100% bookmaker issue.

Of course morning prices, or worse the overnight odds, are a problem child for bookmakers. Most recreational punters bet ten minutes before races. Early odds are largely the domain of professionals in various guises, form judges, arbers and traders are the biggest customers. They call themselves ‘value seekers’ – an interesting term for those actually running a little business off of the low margin racing product. oops rumbled..

ps. The BHA think 10% Levy rates will save Racing. Ho Ho Ho. 10% of zero is zero if my calculations are correct? Get your slide rulers out.

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Punters – You, yes you.
Restricted – or not – you’ve never had it so good, tell yourself that. I’ve never seen so many tin pot offers. A horse doesn’t break from the stalls and big firm reps phone Attheraces for a namecheck. Evens each of two in a rugby game? Best odds? What’s your complaint here?
Want to avoid being restricted? There is a foolproof way you know..you could show the bookie a smidgeon of loyalty..  naahhhh

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Geoff Banks, bookmaker Newbury 20.4.13 Pic: Edward Whitaker

Suppose you stop using the Racing Post betting website? -highlighting only the top odds and major betting only, abandon oddschecker, ditch line tracking software, turn Ray Winstone off, bet with a UK bookmaker who ‘lays bets’ at sustainable odds, turn away from betting behomoths and volume operators, give bonus chasing the swerve along with ten pound offers and free bet chasing, trading or arbing. You could repent altogether..you can still be saved! Hallelujah, praise Jesus and 5 places..sorry I meant 4.

 

But you’re not going to do that – are you? You’re not going to download my APP, instead of Betfair and have a bet without restriction,  because you won’t get refunded if your horse doesn’t beat the ambulance home, or because I won’t give you a deposit bonus wrapped up in terms and conditions of such complexity, Socrates couldn’t understand it. Far better to just sit and impotently moan about Bet365, whilst signing up to their next offer. If you were sitting in their board room, would you take your complaint seriously? Keep up the good work you dummy

ps

a little note for the struggling exacutives from the BHA, desperately trying to organise more racing for their racetrack bosses.. – signing up to 10% Levy deals is all good on paper- but if the margin is eroded you’re defeating the object

Try enforcing a minimum margin requirements on betting companies to bet on horse racing, in order to receive pictures and data- you’ll find you yield a great deal more. If Bet365 won’t comply – no product. What’s your loss – the 3 or 4 million I guess you shamefully accepted from them per annum?

 

Just answer the question..

Here’s a question. As a fan of Racing- do you go racing midweek? What do you think of the Saturday focus and the swing away from racing to the drink culture

Of course all of us have things we like, or not about the sport. Some even dare to voice those opinions publicly, Shame on you.

Well, the sport is badly run, but everyone in charge is still in a job. Odd don’t you think? I think that’s obvious. A BHA that stumbles from one embarrassing headline to another. Policies built to please in particular tenants living upstairs. The Jockey Club and the regulator. In bed over the Associated Betting Partner programme. A sporting farce driven by the Jockey Club. A war on racing’s biggest promoters and sponsors.

The modern day Jockey Club is a pure commercial entity. It’s banner ‘all profits go to Racing.’ Laudable enough, and I’m sure they do.

How would you feel, however if the phrase read  ‘all beer profits go to racing.’ Would you consider that so praise worthy?

It is apparent though, that the modern day ideal for all racetracks is to put on their show on Saturdays. Even if TV networks have better sports to cover, or fans would prefer Ascot and Newmarket to race independent of each other. The rest of the week, and indeed the sport as a whole suffers. Simon Bazelgette of JCR, is right to say we cannot deliver great racing every day, yet he shows no inclination whatsoever to move his best fixtures to slots where the sport would clearly benefit the most. And not to oppose football.

And if you were so stuck on Saturday, why would you not bend on race times- such as an evening Derby, or a Sunday St Leger – which wouldn’t compete with England vs Moldova?

Why not therefore just move your Derby back to a Wednesday. Unopposed garguantuan press coverage guaranteed, improved betting turnover and even the BBC would lick its lips to cover. Why not?

A sport focused upon and funded by selling beer.

JCR and Arena arguably now the biggest publicans in the country. Fights are all too common, a mountain of plastic annually to dispose of, and alcoholic sales disappointingly unchecked. I recall the similar attitude of football Chairmen in the eighties. Hooliganism was a ‘society problem.’ Heysell, Hillsborough and Bradford forced them to a rethink. Now football’s record on the same is far better than Racing. Cameras, bearer cards, allocated seating. After all, you won’t see beer cups at Wimbledon or at the Arsenal, in the stands. They’re simply not permitted. Get in a fight at Liverpool and you’ll never get in again. There’s little such controls in place for Racing. Jockey Club bring the beer to their inebriated customers with mobile backpack beer sellers. Doesn’t happen in any other sport I’ve seen.

Question 2

Why hasn’t the BHA stepped in, with it’s regulatory hat on, to demand change in policy that results in so many fights on British racecourses? That throws hordes of drunks out into the local community after racing?

I’d rather not share a ring with the inebriated and their plastic beakers. I’m sure there are those reading this who understand those sentiments.

Equally, there will be a lot of folk who go Racing for the social side exclusively, caring little for the actual sport. Or to see a concert. JCR can argue,  that by pioneering concerts and by the sale of alcohol, that they pump those funds into prize monies and improvements to their facilities.

Racing has major issues to solve. An engorged and un-competitive pattern rewarding our wealthiest owners with a glut of opportunities. Horses that retire at 3. An invisible  Derby winner, (can you name him?) A leading jockey that’s recalcitrant.

Let me remind you. Lionel Messi plays every week for the fans and engages with the press. Manchester United and Liverpool will likely play 3 or 4 times this season. No avoidance possible. This is the competition for coverage.

Question 3 –

Does the current Saturday social structure make the sport more sale-worthy, particularly to families and older patrons? If, as the tracks maintain the attendances are holding up, is this sufficient?

For me an event focused on something other than the sport can’t progress. Decline in TV audiences. A drop in press coverage, these are a matter of record, not so surprising with so many days of weak cards and certain scribes avoiding what people want to read about. Reduced betting turnover and profit – less than a half of a few years ago. As well documented as these issues are, yet the sport seem totally averse to any change.

Distressing but true. We plough on with the same business plan.The one built on racetrack big betting’s endless calls for more racing. Even if the pitiful betting profits derived from the sport argue a volume based sport definitively doesn’t work.

Only a powerful and thoroughly independent regulator can re think the sport. If the BHA is unwilling, or unable, to tackle the issues true fans would like addressed, perhaps their sell by date is up. The problem is, Racing’s reluctance to engage on the issues. It’s indeed fortunate for the policy makers the press, with a few brave exceptions, have grown so apathetic.

To exacerbate the feeling nothing is likely to change, both racing televised networks are actually owned by the tracks. They control the output. Issues such as the total volume of racing or social responsibility not likely to see airtime. It’s all a little cosy on these channels. Not that their output isn’t entertaining – but it’s inward facin. Not likely an outspoken bookie is invited to liven up proceedings! A buffet of softballs designed to portray the sport as terrific, even when it’s four runners in the mud. No wonder the viewing figures tumble when 40 year olds are force fed what it’s like to ride a winner. Dull dull, intensely dull. Come on Mr Producer.

Solutions to everything involve the dirty word in the sport. Reduce. Reduce the volume of racing, alcohol, patterns. A BHA that recalls it’s fundamentally an regulator and independent trustees.

I’ll send my CV

 

 

Goodwood – The Bookies View

Goodwood worries me. I don’t have a straw boater. I don’t have a gaudy yellow and red tie. My girlfriend isn’t called Caroline. I don’t drive a caravan. I’m a bookmaker. Any one of these marks me out as undesirable at Goodwood.

I chanced it. I find the road to Petworth prettier than the Midhurst option. Both riddled with caravans. Average speed 8mph. All blithering idiots in volvos rolling about the planet with their rickety little houses. Give me a cyclist – anything but this.. The forecasters predicted rain all week. So I left my raincoat. I took my bookie trilby and dark shades.

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I’d forgotten nothing. I was well prepared. Except for my entrance tickets. I rang the Goodwood office – I’m a huge telly star, I says. Sort me out please. Ehm, sorry we’ve never heard of you? Are you a student? Yes. I’m a war veteran, Chairman of the preservation of FOBT’s and President of the old European Republic.

They gave me a ticket to the Silver RIng. Which sounded nice.

I wandered past some 200 ring bookmakers to my betting position on the rails – every one of which had the favourite at 11/8. This seemed odd in an open market? Then I remembered two key rules..

1. Betdaq sets the prices for British racing
2. Any bookie that stands a favourite at a major racing festival for any more than 60p is officially barking mad.

 

Aaahh..

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I’m made of sterner stuff. I stood up, set my trilby in a rakish way, and smiled at some random blonde. She nudged her boyfriend. He checked his wallet and scowled back. The feature race was the Lennox. I stood the favourite for a reasonable sum. And lost a reasonable sum.
Goodwood is terribly pretty. And quite confusing. They seem to race away from you, hug trees in bits, perform loope de loops. Races are only declared over when the favourite wins. It’s quaint, and appealing. especially if you like jockeys with sunny dispositions, like Ryan Moore.

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I rang the office on the way home. ‘not much in it – we stood the Lennox favourite. That was us.’

Wednesday was much betterer. The forecast was rain, so I wore my fantasy island white suit . I entered the track past rows of bookies with number three at 7/2. perhaps the boards were stuck? Bear in mind before you reach for your Bet365 APP – these guys rival exchange odds, carry murderous loads of equipment into tracks, stand out in all sorts of muck and vilified in the press regardless of the fair bets they lay. I disapprove of exchanges on track, but surely they deserve your £2.50 each way more than Gibraltar 365?

I set out to stand the favourite in the Sussex Stakes. Trained by Aiden O Brien. He must have the cleanest backside in Ireland, it’s kissed that much :)  He stables Galileo – a kind of Irish superballs – . Not much can touch his offspring. O Brien for facilities, cash – and for sure his talent at getting them ready. His horses dine on smoked salmon. Race three times, are the greatest he’s ever trained and retired to stud at 18 months. He’s had 20 winners from 80 starts this year and leads Richard Hannon who’s had nearly 800 starts by a modest 4 million in prize money. it’s an unequal struggle. As a matter of public interest, the practice of cherry picking picks racing’s pockets too in Levy terms.

Anyway I had a sneaky fancy for a lively outsider in Godolphin’s Ribchester. This made the Gurkha value to lay at 15/8. No 7/4. I meant 13/8. Actually 11/8. Tremendous value! I stood him for a lump. And lost a lump. Ribchester got lost somewhere on his second loop.

I rang the office. ‘Lost.’ They pronounced. Stood the favourite for a chunk. They lost a chunk. There’s a pattern developing.

Champagne I thought. That’s the ticket. Pleasant oblivion. Everyone will want to hear my sob story. I headed for friends in Goodwood’s lovely, well managed and staffed champagne bar on the lawn. They still afford glasses for their best spending customers. I’ve always found it an oddity that certain racetracks, even the great and good of Jockey Club, are so myopically obsessed with plastic. Average charges of £75 for a class 5 champagne – served in cheap plastic beakers. It’s really hugely disrespectful to your best spending customers, and let’s be honest, poor business practice.

In addition, where’s the environmental concern in how we leave things for our children? A mountain of plastic dumped every year, because it’s cheaper than washing up. Ascot and York teach us one thing. Raise the bar on standards, is the only way..

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I’m also fairly dissilussioned with business ideals of some tracks, based on the free sale of alcohol. Social yes, we all like to wind down. Unpleasant rowdy yobbos lagered up – no. Number of fights at Premier League establishments last year? None. Not a record the ‘Sport Of Kings’ can match!  Tracks can and must put safety and equal consideration for all, above the easy buck.

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One of these days the Gambling Commission are going to take a serious interest in the inebriated state of customers in betting rings, transformed by some tracks into giant pubs. Social responsibilty had better start taking a stronger lead in boardrooms, before licenses are examined, or worse someone is severely injured. I’ve seen some awful fights.   I’m impressed with Britain’s racetracks and the organisations, yes it’s a feelgood experience overall. However, many of us would welcome a serious change in attitude based on the views of older patrons, members or families.

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Anyway, I digress (on purpose). Thursday dawned – grey. Everything, including my blue suit looked grey. Horses appeared into and out of the gloom. I’m assuming Goodwood’s starter was in contact with the judge as every once in a while he’d cry ‘they’re off.’ We’d all stand about for several minutes until the favourite appeared out of the gloom at the half furlong marker. Queues for payouts also disappeared into the gloom. Big orange was the fancy for the feature Goodwood Cup. Jamie Spencer, famously departing from his normal ‘in the car park’ style, led pretty much all the way. I’d learnt my lesson  and stood him for a modest amount. And paid out a modest amount.

I rinsed out my suit back home and rang the office. The cleaner answered. All the staff had left. Left before they were pushed I expect🙂 I asked her to answer the phones.

Friday by contrast was a glorious day. A busting crowd, all jolly and happy at the weather, (forecast torrential rain.) Surely with my great skill I would wipe the smile of their faces? Bookmakers always win.

Except at the Festivals. I should have remembered as being loss leaders so savage for bookies these years. Naturally the favourite won the big race ta dum de dum. As did every other favourite bar one. By then even the punters had no room in their pockets for my dosh. Both here as in Galway I heard, as six more market leaders hosed up there. Several bookies were resuscitated by St Johns Ambulance staffers. Others staggered around bins competing with seagulls for scraps. A few jumped off the grandstand. Those that survived the fall were escorted back to their joints by security to finish paying out..

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I was x rayed by Goodwood security for money before I left. Fortunately I’d enough petrol in the bottom of my tank to get home. It’s mostly downhill, and if the worst comes to the worst, I could hitch to a caravan..

Saturday, I woke to the Morning Line and a huge brawl between the excellent Graham Cunningham and a Brontausaurus from Middleham. Johnson was telling viewers, desperate to find out what would win the 3.15, that they really weren’t interested in that at all. I remembered he’d once worked for the BHA and I began to understand the slates had fallen off the roof.  His views on outlawing racetrack concerts were equally funny. You have to hand it to Mark – he provided top value. Honestly though, I do admire folk in racing with opinions. Imagine a weekly show on the wonders of the horse and horseman. Fringe satellite fodder on mainstream TV. 47 viewers tops.

 

I entered the track to cheers from punters and sympathetic looks from St Johns Ambulance folk. The Stewards Cup followed a couple of obliging favourites. Recurring nightmare. I hate the bloody Stewards. The draw is all encompassing. I haven’t won on Goodwood’s bunfight since 1968. I was born in 1984.

Minding won a pointless race against horses rated 65 pounds inferior. Not outstanding, some comparing her to Ouja Board. Same eejitts who think Dancing Brave should now be rated 45. Shame she wasn’t trained by Kerry Lee. We’d have seen her at Ascot in a proper race. Not cherry picked for this farce and avoiding the men again. (And if anyone tells me Kerry is a jumps trainer..)

After the training gallop, Minding was ‘paraded’ in front of the stands. Moore never looked up once..

A blur of well fancied horses later, I strolled back to the bus stop. The car long since having packed up through fuel starvation.. I consoled my self with the thought my big betting competitors had spent their weekends working on ingenious offers like 10/1 Minding, or opposing Ryan Moore. That went well. An old guy gave me a fiver. I burst into tears.

My Saturday performance, nearly 2000 bets, lots of betting (sorry MJ) an absolute buffet of gorgeous crumpet, considerable turnover, considerable payouts.. Loss £108 – add expenses for the week, $4800. I came, I saw, I deposited.. I suppose also you could argue I ogled birds all day for £108. Better value than Minding

Goodwood is Glorious. It’s still a pleasure, well run and ordered, and despite the gap in my finances I look forward to it. I like the new management style. Years ago my Old Man told me he struggled to win there. This would have been pre-betting exchange days. The era of Harwood and Dunlop, and many alike. Now it’s Aiden o Brien in the summer and Willie Mullins in the winter. Bookmakers had better learn to bet better at these Festivals, and the pattern sorted out if racing is to prosper at all, as other sports do, from their best events. They cannot remain loss leaders.

ITV have to give me a job now. All this, and looks too..

summer

 

A referendum based on ignorance

I think I understand democracy. I grew up in a balanced and sensible state in which the majority were temperate and considerate of others. I fully understand the views of those about immigration. I drive the roads daily about my business and I see things getting busier. It’s frustrating.

I don’t understand the pensioners voting out. I find it hard to believe they could so soon forget living under the threat of war. There’s little question in my mind the only reason we haven’t been at war with anyone, other than sending our planes to distant states here and there, in an effort to  exert our glorified values on others, is because of Europe.

What is no threat is war with our neighbours. This happened twice in the last century. So it can happen, and it devastated nation after nation and killed millions. Europe may not be perfect, but there can be absolutely no doubt a collective of 28 nations makes us stronger politically and militarily. Putin is a strong and necessary evil. He invaded Crimea on a whim. NATO did nothing about that I noticed, as worthless as the UN if the USA doesn’t call the ball. One thing is for sure – he’s not about to invade Poland or Hungary. Because of Europe.

putin

I’m guessing some pensioners voted on concerns at the NHS. Little doubt the waiting times for them have become worse, and I’m certain the issue of operation times are a big concern to them. It remains centrally true it’s because our own pensioners live longer,  blocking up the system. Immigrants, by contrast, mostly a lot younger, play little part whatsoever in the NHS, other than to help staff it! If you voted to improve the NHS by leaving Europe, sorry but you’ve completely lost your mind.

I watched the debate on Europe avidly. I consider myself educated. I have to say the remain camp, with the odd exception as in Sadiq Khan, were excessively weak in their debating. They didn’t address the main issues. They failed to convince the voters. Corbyn was, well – just Corbyn. A 1980’s throwback. Invisible for several weeks of debate, to finally emerge with lukewarm support of Europe. That’s a leader? Really?

We were warned, over and over, by the economists, almost unanimously,  we would end up a lot worse off. We’ve take an immediate hit, averaging 10% on the markets. Yes, it’s actually happened! More if we’re talking about property companies. Your house is now worth less.

Now I hear from the leavers – it will be alright on the night, it will recover. But market collapse such as 30% off of Barclays isn’t a fluke, and you’re a fool if you do not realise you’re going to pay for it. It may recover, if you’re very lucky. Your pensions, dear pensioners, are worth an awful lot less. Don’t you think before you vote?

The truth is, in trade terms, we were better in.

property

Travel is already 10% more expensive as the pound has taken a severe pounding with the Bank of England desperately trying to console the market with platitudes and promises of liquidity. They’re ready to shore up the pound.

Now where have I heard that before?

If there’s one over riding factor, it’s the rise of right wing fascists. Boris might come over as an amiable bumbling buffoon, somewhat overplaying that card. He’s managed to make himself the most unpopular politician in Britain. Worse than Cameron or Corbyn. He told a pack of lies to the electorate and got away with it! Now he’s favourite to take over as prime minister of my country? Not in my world. An ultra right wing leader in the UK and the USA at the same time. Wars start so easily with such leaders. (Read Mein Kampf)

If Boris leads- I’ll vote with the party who tear up this referendum as the nonsense it was.

Take thorough caution of such men. We won’t discuss Farage, Britain’s Ian Foot, other than to say if you voted on his hate filled views, you need a shower.

farage

What should have happened? An ill educated, and worse poorly informed electorate should never have been given the ballot. The vote was virtually evenly split. That’s hardly a clear mandate to base such an enormous decision upon is it folks? Who came up with that plan? Fine, if a ‘majority’ voted us out, I’d shut up. But not this wishy washy deal. And my country, (Scotland) voted solidly in. Now they face the prospect of splitting from the Union to get their rightful way. On that I’m with Sturgeon for the first time in my life. She’ll be delighted.

Have any of you leavers worked out how much it would cost to completely redraft all of our laws now we’re out? I bet you haven’t even considered that.

Governments are voted in to lead, and make informed choices based on our mandate.Of course a postal worker in Darlington, or biscuit packer in Brentford isn’t going to understand the base economics of something as large as Europe. That’s why we have chancellors and law makers, who spend their lives negotiating on our behalf. Cameron was entirely wrong to throw it open to an ill educated public, and entitrely right to resign. He gambled on Scotland and won. He gambled on Europe and cost us dear. Fool.

What needs to happen? Parliament has to debate the true merits of exit, given what we have witnessed over the last couple of days, whether or not the UK is actually better served by leaving Europe as Boris Johnson and his group of half wits would have us believe, or whether we spiral into deep recession. The economic chaos has already started. The security issues will surely follow. 52% isn’t a majority. Far too many had no say. Far too many protest voted. For many weeks I struggled to understand what I was being told. I’m sure many of you reading this would be of the same view- whichever way you voted. People simply did not understand the issues. Some even thought leave as a protest vote that would never actually happen. They didn’t vote on Europe. it was some other agenda. What a farce.

boris

The fascist..

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And no, it’s not possible to control immigration on a planet who’s population is spiralling out of control. Perhaps we should consider whether bombing nation states to impose our will on other states, reducing the population there to living in rubble, is the right way to go about things. Perhaps we should consider whether the split in our nation, England and Wales vs Ireland and Scotland is what we intended. We are the best of friends right now, how can we contemplate division?

Enjoy your queue at passport control.

future