The ‘Roast of Bruce Millington’

Open Letter to Bruce Millington – Racing Post editor.

 

Regards Racing Post headline January 5th 2017

‘Regulator’s concern at allegations of ‘Sharp practice’

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Whether the regulator was concerned at what the bookies were getting up to – or the Racing Post- isn’t clear at this stage..

It’s tempting I understand to follow in leading betting experts like Tony Calvin, with his calls for police to be involved over a 16/1 chance shortening to 14/1 (big deal). I also completely understand a lifetime as a punter doing your coconuts, that you don’t run out every Christmas to get bookies a card.

You do run what is now another commercial arm of big betting, with horsey news stories tacked on the end. You’ve become the bookmaker Bruce- targeting the little firms at the sharp end whilst you quoff your champagne with the big bookie executives in their lovely private boxes. (For the veracity in that statement – please see the adverts in your daily rag)

The majority reading this will be fully aware of your ‘commercial’ approach to editing, that is when you’re not scribbling about referees, who scored the goal etc. If it’s a sponsor of the paper, careful editing and the very independence of the paper naturally sacrocanct to the almighty dollar. You make no bones as to who pays the piper.

In my opinion..

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To boot the output of the paper you have responsibility for is evidently chastised by punters (readers) for its failures, in their view, to properly highlight issues with big betting, their muddy terms and conditions, nasty little machines and a thousand telly adverts a minute,. Months of adverts in the Post touting money back offers that simply didn’t exist, perhaps you didn’t notice as you banked the cheques?

QED – when you paste headlines inferring a trade body culpable in sharp practices, without a bit of Columbo work to ensure its accurate, and your best supporter is Big Mac, its got to be a bit worrying..in the meantime you make all of us look deeply shabby. All on your front page- so rarely utilised to criticise bookmakers. Given the quality of your work here, I find it all thoroughly unprofessional and cheap.

It’s tempting once again to turn on those who don’t prop up the paper, but stand in the driving rain – providing a lot of people with a valuable service- and keep racetracks in business.

I also contacted Gambling Commission Executive Director, Tim Miller. He was thrilled to talk to me. But they’re an honest bunch too. I paraphrase a bit in saying you ambushed the poor fellah with this drab. He confirmed to me the Commission, who regularly place investigators on course, (they come disguised as 16 year olds) had no evidence of any price rigging. Nor was any investigation in play.  Say it isn’t so? They therefore had no concerns, other than to respond to your headline. Did you therefore misrepresent their interest? They didn’t know what you were talking about. Nor did the SP regulatory commission.

To give an analogy, you rang up the police to ask if they would take a dim view of car theft, and they told you how nasty that would be, and you stuck it on your home page almost as if it had occurred. You could have helped yourself to yet another BHA own goal- but let’s be fair on the eternal fail that is Harman, he’s had a bad couple of years fending off Chris Cooke and The Dikler, can’t possibly monopolise the news every week can he? Gambling Commission weren’t confirming in any way Mr Smith’s comments. They know Andy Smith forms one part of a Christmas double act with Tony Calvin as the panto donkey.

It’s 5/6 each of two who’s at the ass end of the same.

So what was the basis of your stories? Rumour, or fact? Did you consider the livelihoods of those you so cynically cheapened? Most people don’t care about little bookies, but that doesn’t mean we deserve your unfounded reports. Were your reports, in fact, based on any known facts, or do you feel you have the right to say as you please?

Mr Smith was not in fact betting at Cheltenham. That’s helpful information isn’t it Bruce? A point not mentioned in the first report of skullduggery. I wonder if anyone bothered to check? I did.

Of course old Andy has previous form with regards to letting his tongue wobble and making unsubstantiated remarks.. Odd that I’ve always liked Andy in a strange sort of way, he’s a character and there’s few of us left, but everyone knows he’s prone to this sort of rash comments.Nobody thought anyone would listen to him. Except you. Oh dear me.

What you did was garden variety irresponsible and lazy journalism to curry favour with a few punters. Oh those nasty bookies again.Grade A tosh. You haven’t a shred of evidence to support your position, although to be fair newspapers historically aren’t famous for caring particularly about the facts. .

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I wonder if you appreciate using expressions like ‘sharp practice’ without foundation is on the risqué side? Just the kind of thing top wags like Jonathan Harvie QC eat for their lunch. You see the whole episode was picked up by ITV, ATR and Racing UK. All reporting on your little tittle tattle that never actually happened and getting richer in the accusations. I’m not minded to run to Jonathan because when all is said and done it’s the age old bookie vs punter battle. Your flank is exposed here.

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If you understood what actually happens in the betting ring, you would appreciate that what occurs in instances where horses break loose for example, that the prices in the ring increase, as bookmakers follow betting exchanges almost to the letter.

If you understood what occurred at Cheltenham on New Years Day, you would have appreciated that there was considerable confusion as to whether this outsider was a runner, or not. That the betting exchanges, which bookmakers rely upon for information, had the horse also listed as a runner. That bookmakers are focused on business and quite often find it difficult to hear announcements. That the weather was diabolical and bookmakers were struggling with pouring rain and cold. That the whole mess was the responsibility of the ruling body. There was, at the very least, a thorough lack of appreciably accurate information. In the absence of official information, they bet with the horse as a runner. An out bloody-sider- likely no bookmaker even noticed he hadn’t passed them by in the gloom. There was no ‘conspiracy’ of sample bookmakers. These include some of the greatest names in bookmaking. Coral, Hills, Ladbrokes, Betfred. Such firms make up the lions share of any SP. Were they in your little conspiracy? Did we have a little huddle?

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If you understood how betting markets operated, you would appreciate fully that the major bookmakers, involved with the sample, don’t follow win only odds from betting exchanges, especially when liquidity levels for such selections are so low. And in respect of the associated place markets. Sample bookmakers don’t trade bets with exchanges, they accept risk and in doing so have to bet to an acceptable margin and in reliance on betting exchanges for price – the available liquidity. We’re not interested in Calvin’s £2 liquidity levels. Remember – he hasn’t laid an egg and imagines we’re worried about 24.0 to £9. It’s pub fare- pure and simple. And, by the way, it very regularly occurs for horses to ‘dip’ in odds just prior to the off.

You place a lot of reliance on this movement of a horse from 16/1 to 14/1 as the basis of your argument that bookmakers could have been colluding on affecting the rule 4 deductions. To defeat the simplistic argument of those who think everything is about exchanges- it simply isn’t when a boomaker has to make his place market ‘fit.’ Many bookmakers near to the off cut their odds in case of late uncontrollable action. For this reason, the SP is usually the worse price to take. A heady factor the conspiracy theorists neither understand nor give account for. How do you know a bookmaker hadn’t laid the horse and had a few wagers with sample firms? Everyone considered the horse a runner. Is it impossible, or do you simply prefer we sent each other a text when the opportunity arose to make ourselves 5p here and there?

And pray tell me Bruce- and for those other journalists who have so casually jumped upon this as something factual – what is the commercial benefit you are claiming large sample bookmakers would make from a 5p deduction – on a racetrack – in the pouring rain? Since most of those in the sample proper only bet on track.

Why were betting experts such as myself contacted for the sake of journalistic balance in this bunfight?

Finally, you would accept the view of the SP regulatory body, who reported that they witnessed no nefarious activity. That they had no evidence of bookmakers ‘contracting’ the odds as has been suggested. Now I’m no particular fan in how they operate, but in this case they have been quite clear. They saw nothing untoward. They must be wrong too.

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I fancy this little letter will remain on your school report for quite some time to come, enjoy your pie and chips tonight. Anyone with a passing interest in the truth – and I’m famous for telling the truth, coupled with a lifetime of experience in the ring, feel free to comment, and give Brucie the old rub down with a damp Sporting Life. In my view, the only ‘sharp practice’ in play here eminates from you Mr Millington.

My thanks. Can’t buy you all a bottle of brown ale, for ploughing through this- but you know I would if I drank the stuff.

gb33

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kempton – The Bookies View

Let’s get the good stuff out of the way shall we? After a diet of fourteen Christmas dinners and far too much to drink, even the grossest type 2 diabetan fancies a break. The traditional Boxing Day bash at Kempton is just the place.

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As BanksBentley1 swished it’s way towards Sunbury Cross (why you have darkened windows) I noticed the good people of Sunbury had organised a Christmas treat for those heading to Kempton, by diverting power to the  traffic lights at the big roundabout to their Christmas trees. very civil of them. We drove over a couple of electric cars and parked in the Chairman’s bay.
Kempton isn’t a big track. It doesn’t take much to fill. Two small grandstands, one of which needs to be condemned. You can pick which one goes first. Plenty of concessionaires selling chips with curry sauce to the Diabetans and one of the best tracks in the country. Indeed it’s smaller All Weather affair is as good a surface as you’ll find. It’s great JCR resisted digging up the whole thing for Tesco. Sandown just wouldn’t be the same with it’s fancy Grandstand and driving range.
The crowd was noticably lighter, although still a positive turnout for their feature event- I was happy to see. Kempton officials doubtless in the street encouraging people in..
CSP do the parking and gateman duties at the little venue. Not for Kempton the nice old duffers in bowler hats from Ascot. No these were the nightclub bouncer types. ‘I’m VERY famous’ I told one Tony Calvin lookalike between enclosures. ‘I don’t care if you’re Simon Mapletoft’ he growled ‘you’re not coming in ere.’ Fine, I’ll buy a ticket
I doffed my hat to the bookies I knew, resplendent with their fancy light boards. They do their best to add to the Christmas cheer by paying out on a couple of favourites winning the two biggest heats. Well it is Kempton after all. I hoped someone would notice Kempton in amongst the 77 other races helpfully organised for the day – a mere 3.7 minutes apart for each – not quite enough to bet on. Planning for children by children.
Of course I had spent the week griping on Twitter to all in sundry (most who can’t spell by the way – don’t you go to skool?) about the pathetic turnout for the major races. To include one total no hoper entered in the graded hurdle, who couldn’t beat his grandmother home. Gray Wolf River, whose owner reasoned – reasonably, that by entering he was guaranteed a bigger pot than he’d ever bagged before.

Pause for favourite winning- and payouts

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This is a kind of farce only the National Hunt could put on. A heat so rich in prize fund, yet poorly attended, a horse, according to his owner akin ‘to a bicycle entering a Grand Prix heat’ could make it pay.
Yes, Yes, I know. Colin Tizzard saved the whole shooting match by making one of the bravest, and yes, noble decisions, in running his two specialist 3 milers against each other. One of whom could potentially have bagged the famous million pound bonus for winning 3 specific championship events. Throwing Fizzlecrack into the mix was a decision based on the sport and not the business. To that end I applaud all the connections involved.

Cue Card strolled by – head in the air as usual..such a ponce

Pause for favourite wins and payouts..

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To those who don’t get my point on the poor turnout and avoidance with Graded events in the winter in the 5 months before Cheltenham, I say one thing. If you don’t understand a sport is based on its top stars racing against each other, rather than horses rated far below their level to polite applause, then you don’t understand sport one bit and what it competes with for interest. If you want to see Altior bumble around against trees, pop to Seven Barrows, where the genial Henderson will let you look for free. This is a sport. Not a business. And the main protagonists should square off against each other more than once a year – that’s if we’re lucky.
Imagine if you will, a world where Rich Ricci owned Fizzlecrack and Cue Card. Both would be running at Cork, in a couple of meaningless affairs. What are the chances they’d square off on recent form? Try zero. What are the chances of Divan (the magnificent?) facing Fizzlecrack? Try zero.

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So the next time you find me standing alone, crying out for people to do something about the disgraceful state of affairs in the beautiful code- try standing to post yourself and making a damned noise. At least highlight these comments if you agree.
Is there a brilliant Banks solution to the whole 5 month Cheltenham schooling gallop scene? Certainly there is. Like EVERY other sport, attendance should be based on merit and qualification. You can’t go to the FA Cup final until you’ve beaten 8 other teams. You don’t get to play in the US Masters until you’ve won several tournaments. Yet Annie Power can sit in her box for five months and turn up for the Champion Hurdle just because. It isn’t good enough. Sponsors, racegoers, television companies pay to see the best race against each other throughout the season. It falls to Jockey Club here as custodians of Racing and the over arching Cheltenham, to sort the whole damn mess out – to their benefit and their patrons too mind you. It’s for sure the BHA aren’t capable of dealing with the situation. Harman’s still learning what a conflict of interest is.
it’s traditional at kempton for Bookies to pop to the ATM for extra funds. Me, I went to several. I’m experienced you see. My customers know to wager on one side (small queue) and collect on the other side (huge queue). Fizzlecrack jumped two fences in one bound in defeating his opponents. And I thoroughly enjoyed watching it. Will he handle Cheltenham? Well the only fly in his oitment is the tricky fences there. To take off at an open ditch at Prestbury 46 yards before the fence and trail your boots in can be toublesome. Given his performance however I see Cue Card disappearing to the Ryanair to join Djakadam, Divan, Faugheen and Annie Power. All of whom I’m sure hold a spare entry to the mares – just in case..
One strange event in the day however, someone backing My Tent Or Yours to win? What chance has he got, the fellah said. ‘To finish second?’ I asked. He looked puzzled.Clearly a novice.

After day one I sold the Bentley.

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Day two rolled around.I popped to the ATM, boarded my electric smug car and headed back to the scene of the crime. I noticed St Johns’ ambulance hanging round the bookie stalls, waiting on heart attacks and Tanya from Channel 4 in the crowd looking miserable, and she hadn’t laid a bet! The death of Channel 4 will be met with mixed reviews. for me it’s equally sad because I witnessed the effort first hand and I know it will be tough for ITV to live up to people’s expectations.

My office called every fifteen seconds to keep me posted on a raft of multiple bets running up on favourites around the  country, all running into Native River in the Welsh Grand national. This one for fifteen grand, this one for 26 grand. I groaned every time the phone rang. A punter thrust five pound into my hand after Native River hosed up. ‘That’s for you Son’ he said.
Very sweet of him. Next year I’m going skiing. No matter how expensive the hotel, it couldn’t be more than two days in Sunbury..

Jim Best – The Bookies View

ah, I love a good laugh as much as the next man, but some things go beyond funny-  the realm of ‘The Office’ for uncomfortable viewing. The only surprise in conclusion to the whole Jim Best saga, is how all the chairs remain at the table. I mean in ordinary circumstances you’d pull a few away as the executives returned to work after a hard day quoffing sandwiches in a cosy box over the weekend, eh?

Insiders in racing hate that type of remark. It’s the pub reaction rather than the considered approach afficianados deem  ‘appropriate.’

But if you drag your behinds on providing the sport with the best array of minds to run it, you probably deserve a little nudge heh?
I fail to understand how Chairman Harman and several integrity based officials haven’t been publicly cleaned out. The BHA is a business after all, the task in hand of putting on the best show possible. How many giant fails must we rack up before we pull away the chairs? Or is the inexperienced Harman simply doing as he’s told?  Can’t be a position based on performance..nor the independance of the regulator.

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For the shadowy Trustees, responsible for appointing the Chairman of the BHA, you wonder what gamble they’re playing here with the sport.Moronic fights with the leading sponsors (the approved betting programme) a serious of embarrassing legal cases, an authority over budget. And now this bedroom farce over Jim Best. Don’t forget, if you’re an owner or a trainer- you’re footing the bill in fees.Have an opinion?

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I warned key officials in August further pursuit of this case as excessively unwise. Of course I didn’t expect them to listen to me for goodness sakaes, I’m not that dumb.  A hearing so tainted by the involvement of a solicitor with an apparent conflict of interest.Totally unwinnable surely? 1.01 to Best provided the ban was sufficiently long to force him to appeal. Smart minds in the appeal board, keep the sentence light  – nobody likes their decisions appealed.
Rule no 1 at the Authority. If it’s embarrassing, keep your mouth shut.Everyone knows the fire drill.They never take the helmets off in truth.

Whether you believe the jockey, or the trainer. The fact remains one, the other, or both should be facing anything up to lifetime bans for the deliberate stopping of a horse. Not a jumps season. Personally I don’t think the case has been handled in any way in a manner commensurate with the duty of care’ (ha ha) the regulator owed to Best as a licensee. After the initial debacle, the matter should have been parked, pure and simple. I don’t like Jim Best, but the fact remains the panels viewed Johns as ‘untruthful.’ It was a pub ruling, not one based on evidence. He said, she said.

Of course the BHA could deal with such matters by introducing a new rule o racfing. One of the ill judged ride. You don’t need to prove a jockey stopped or pulled a horse, nor that he ever intended to. In such instance Barry Geraghty would have justifiably been banned for one of the worst examples of poor judgement, in my opinion, in recent times on Noble Emperor, not stopping the thing, which would have been unjust. And the punters who backed the unfortunate animal would have been satisfied. It seems to me it’s either prove they stopped a horse, which is nigh on impossible, and mostly thoroughly untrue, or punish them for generally poor performance. A far lesser offence. Why is it left to me to come up with these ideas? You could call it the Banks rule.

I have no issue, and find it odd, that the appeals body took the view cutting a deal with Johns as somewhat shadowy. Its common practice to go easy on the lesser individual in legal cases. I’m with the BHA on that one. Write that down. It doesn’t happen too often I descent to their level of performance. Cutting deals with witnesses is quite common and should not have surprised this panel

To the appeals panel i say this. If you deemed, somewhat dubiously, to find Jim Best guilty of cheating, you should have handed down bans befitting such a crime.

No, Sir E Bob, this panel perhaps more concerned with the appeal to the High Court and the inevitable cost of the BHA defending their handling there. Doubtless as in the Speculative Bid case, the Judge would treat this regulator with the same scorn handed to them by Judge Charles Harris. What were you thinking of with Lohn, etc etc, let’s have him in etc etc
I’m hearing Jim’s wife has applied for a trainers license. With a ruling which permits Best to remain on licensed premises, we can end up with a situation where the regulator finds an individual guilty of stopping horses, yet doesn’t lose a day’s work.
Idiots in a job.  Do pass the port will you?

Greenham 2

Geoff Banks, bookmaker Newbury 20.4.13 Pic: Edward Whitaker

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

winstone
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.

bet365-sports-bonus-250
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.

odds
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.

ladbrokes
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

Greenham 2

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?