‘All our profits go to Racing’

A noble catch phrase from the Jockey Club. The once esteemed ruling body of racing.

‘All our profits go to racing.’   Needs work in my opinion. Far more appropriate ‘All our drink profits go to Racing’ – because THAT’s true.


Amy Starkey, the publican in charge of Newmarket, today banned under 16’s from attending her Newmarket music nights. It’s little surprise as Newmarket has for years gone unpunished by the local authority and the regulatory BHA for a series of brawls taking place on its grounds. Who wants children to witness such behaviour? Cynically I’d add that families spend less than the gangs of young men and women Jockey Club target in their advertising. That’s what they are. Gangs.

The last ‘racing’ experience reported upon involved grown men trading punches in front of children just yards away. Children struck by flying bottles. Bruised, frightened and shocked, whilst JCR executives claim some form of moral high ground with their punchy logo. Quite horrific



Racing has hit the tabloids three times in a few weeks. Incidents at Newmarket, Lingfield and even the smartest of the bunch, Ascot. We shouldn’t be headlining for these reasons.


Let’s get this right. Children not welcomed. I don’t know about anyone else, but it was as a child I learned to appreciate this sport. What a disgraceful decision.

I’m little surprised at the inactivity from the regulator here. They live below JCR in an incisidious arrangement far too unhealthy for the sport. There need to be distance between the BHA and those feeding from the pot. Someone needs to move out if independence of the regulator is to be respected fully.


I’ve witnessed many brawls over the years on Jockey Club property. I’ve never once seen a senior executive or track manager come out to find out what the hell is going on. I wouldn’t want anyone out there to be in any doubt this body has gone well beyond the boundaries of decent behaviour as it seeks to prop up it’s creaking empire of tracks.

It’s all about the dollar. Top events such as the Derby moved to Saturdays, in a shallow attempt to court the corporate dollar. We absolutely know the Derby would receive more worldwide exposure in it’s traditional Wednesday slot. The regulator should be empowered for such races to order what’s best for Racing, to include the removal of feature events from certain tracks, not pander to  Jockey Club profits. What I see at Epsom these days are some of the worst excesses of alcohol abuse in any sport I’ve attended. Totally uncontrolled drink sales in every ring in the place.

Let’s also not forget the environmental catastrophe left for our children created by a mountain of plastic beer beakers. Tens of millions of them every year to be disposed of somehow.


Should tracks like Newmarket have their licenses suspended by the BHA, if not by local authorities? Absolutely, they should. It’s time for this regulator to step in and order a halt to behaviour which ostracizes traditional racegoers, members, children and pensioners from enjoyment of their racing experience. Give Newmarket a six month holiday and order it to behave. If you cannot produce a product fit for children to attend you need to give yourself a thorough shake. No use having a regulator more focused on giving novice jockeys ten bay bans, but ignoring far bigger evils is there?


Every other sport has cleaned up their act. Racing sinks deeper into the sump. Racing isn’t about drink, it’s about the sport. Football doesn’t permit alcohol on its terraces. Why do we? What goes on on the green turf is what racetracks should be focussed upon. Not this shameful behaviour.



Davy Russell – a few questions

Plenty of chest beating at this one – and I’m not here to defend or applaud Russell over this. The Racing Post has seen fit to crusade harder for a ‘result’ here than it dared to criticise (at all) their sponsor 888 Sport for its failings, in continuing to make profit from serious problem gamblers. Twitter has exploded with many individuals offering views for, or against, Russell’s actions. Many of those criticising his actions have seen fit to use some pretty evocative language.

But here’s a few questions you should ask yourself

  • How many times, if at all have you ridden a racehorse? Or ridden at all.
  • If you’ve never ridden a racehorse how difficult do you imagine it can be?
  • If you’ve never ridden either, and you’ve commented on the affair, what makes you specially qualified to offer judgement.
  • A punch is a term humans use, is it appropriate in this case ?
  • The video of the incident is widely available. Did you see the behaviour of the horse prior to reaching the training fence?
  • Were you aware the horse made several attempts to throw Russell going to post?
  • What effect on the potential for success is this likely to have for the horse and connections?
  • Are you aware it can costs upwards of £30,000 a year to train a racehorse?
  • Success is the determinant of the animal’s likely future, is it more or less likely connections will continue to fund its training if it’s ill disciplined?
  • Are you aware of how unsuited racehorses are to other lines of work, such as eventing, without considerable investment and retraining?
  • Are you aware that thousands of racehorses are sold annually for horsemeat to the European markets? Estimates vary in numbers here of course but percentages vary between 30-70% of retirees.


Of course the last question is the most difficult for people to accept, or read about. And for sure Racing has taken major steps towards re-homing of ex racehorses. But let’s deal with the harsh reality here. A difficult, recalcitrant or under-performing horse has a dim future in this sport for simple financial reasons, and someone has to be prepared to find a home, or harder a job, for the likes of Kings Dolly if he can’t be trained.

An unruly animal is less likely to be taken on by top pilots, and by extension far less likely to succeed as top jockeys are more than half the battle in events where the participants are but a few pounds apart in ability.

A well trained and disciplined horse has the best chance of succeeding and of course paying its way in life. Behind the scenes, many horsemen- even if in this affair they’ve typically kept mum on the subject and left Russell out to dry, do in fact discipline their horses. This can be in a manner those among us whose only experience of animals is a cat or dog, could find hard to understand.

In this age of social networking, we see people in the public eye scrutinised as never before. Political correctness has soared out of control as finger pointing from a largely ignorant mob has arisen. This isn’t about a horse being beaten. It’s about celebrity bashing and people’s self worth at the expense of others better qualified.

Thoroughbreds are large, excitable, exceptionally powerful and yes somewhat dangerous charges who require arduous training and control by some incredibly hard working and caring folk. I for one don’t condone anyone losing their temper, but at the end of the day the horse was simply badly behaved and threatening the jockey’s well being. Those of you out there sitting in your underpants howling in front of the keyboard haven’t the first clue if you believe another jockey could, or would, have done better. This particular fellah won a Gold Cup and been twice Champion Irish jockey. What’s your record in the saddle?

Face facts, they do require control, Kings wasn’t ‘beaten senseless’, it wasn’t akin to a pub brawl. You’ve likely never ridden a racehorse, and therefore haven’t the first clue how difficult, even impossible, they can be to control. I’d rather see a horse brought to heel than sent for slaughter. If you love the racehorse as I do, there’s a strong case that what Russell did was right in practice, especially when one considers his own welfare. His only crime to do it in front of a world of keyboard warriors.



If you value service in Bookmaking – open a private betting account with http://www.geoff-banks.com


How to deal with Bet365 livechat..



Annette M Hello, welcome to bet365 Live Chat. How may I help you?

geoff HELLO

geoff trouble logging in using details

Annette M Hello Geoff.

geoff hi

Annette M The four-digit security number you have provided at the start of this Live Chat is incorrect. Can you please re-confirm your four-digit security number?

geoff (security number given)

Annette M This is incorrect, is there anything else it may be?

geoff honestly don’t know

geoff (another guess at security number)

geoff ?

Annette M I will just need you to confirm some further security questions in order to proceed.

– Username
– Your full name
– Date of birth
– The first line of your address and your postcode
– Your email address/telephone number
– The last four digits of your payment type registered on your account (e.g. credit card, Neteller account number, etc.)
– Can you tell me approximately when the last deposit or withdrawal was made on your account and how much was this for?


geoff 7 pieces of information??

Annette M Its 6 pieces of the information we would require, just so we can identify that we are speaking with the account holder.

geoff before i go through this exhaustive rigmarole

geoff can you tell me why my username and password no longer work on the account?

Annette M In order to review your account I would require the information asked for, I apologise for any inconvenience.

geoff not really answering the question Annette


(extremely long pause..)

(ok so she doesn’t have a canned message to deal with a real question..


geoff (username given)

geoff (date of birth given)

Annette M Without confirming security I am unable to look in to your account.

geoff yes I know its extremely sensitive data to look at a lot of £1 bets

geoff so i shall continue

geoff the account is quite old so its possible ive moved

geoff (address given)

geoff (e mail address given)

geoff (card details given)

Annette M Could there be any alternative address registered?

geoff phone (phone number given)

Annette M Also, any other email address registered?

geoff (older address given)

geoff i bet you get a torrent of abuse for this..

geoff (alternative e mail given)

Annette M This address is incorrect.

geoff this is a great guessing game

Annette M I do apologise, however We treat the security of our customer’s accounts very seriously. We will only discuss account details once we are sure we are talking to the true account holder.

geoff is there another way we can do this

geoff like a passport upload

geoff because i have 5 different e mail addresses

geoff and moved three times in the last ten years

geoff and probably had the account that long

Annette M If you could provide any information it could be I would be greatful.

geoff Can you just answer my last question – i’d be really grateful

geoff is a passport upload acceptable

Annette M Unfortunately this would not be acceptable, I would require the 6 pieces of information.

geoff ok we will plough on your way

geoff what else do you need

Annette M The correct last four digits of your payment method please?

geoff (card details given)


…long pause..

…unbelievably long pause – worried if Annette may have passed away..



geoff please take your time- i have all afternoon to do this

Annette M This is an incorrect last four digits.

geoff (another card given)

Annette M Do you recall the last deposit made and how much it was for.

geoff no

Annette M I would advise that you gather this information and then contact back. I would be unable to assist you further without completing security.

geoff i see

geoff well thank you very much for your time today

Annette M Thank you for contacting bet365 Live Chat today.

Annette M has now left this chat.

This chat has now ended.



Once you’re done with the implaccable Annette M – you can try their ‘lost login’ portal – which because you’ve forgotten your details directs you back to Annette M..




Few industries behave as badly as Gambling

Imagine you walked into Waitrose -up to the crisp counter and there were three similar bags of crisps for sale for 50p. Watched three customers try to buy them. All at the very same price. One customer could buy the crisps freely at the advertised price. The second could only buy part of the bag at the price. The third couldn’t buy the crisps at all.


Would you consider that a breach of the consumer rights of two out of the three customers?


Were Ryanair to place an advertisement, on every platform, advertising seats to Paris for just £10, but in reality there were only a few seats available at that price. Would you consider that to be fair advertising?


The first two paragraphs highlight just how badly modern large betting concerns behave, how their general business ethics have dipped– and simply get away with it.  Consider the following common practices:


They can advertise prices on any event and not lay them to each or any of their customers if they want to. There’s no acceptable lay to lose minimum. It’s available to selected individuals only. Essentially  they can adopt an unsustainable pricing policy and remain untackled by regulator, or government. Advertising odds, yet not undertaking to lay those odds to every customer on their books, not to guarantee to lay that price to everyone on their books, for as long as they hold that price. To selectively manage who gets a bet, and who does not, which at the very least is surely a serious issue for trading standards under every law, and honour, that I understand.

‘No industry behaves worse to consumers than the gambling sector’



We hear daily grand claims of the 22 million customers of Bet365. What percentage of those customers are factored, and if so, why are they so restricted? How has it become allowable that one individual can wager- whilst another cannot, for whatever the reasoning?  If firms could only advertise odds available to many, as Ryanair are required to do, what claims would they be forced to bin? In other words, if it’s sold to but a few, how can it be legitimately advertised as such.

In doing so, and tacitly ignored by the various regulators and competition authorities, they’re able to beat off lesser competition with such unsustainable offers and deals they’re not in any way mandated by governance to give to their own customers. With business models based on far lower cost base, and a volume approach to betting. People don’t care about small business, but were I to tell you the small bookmaking sector, which behaves so well and contributes so notably to tax and levy, declines by 15% year on year, would you consider such advertising or pricing fair or reasonable competition?

Most of you know I grew up racing with John Banks, my Father. Were I to tell you in all the time I raced with him he never turned down a single offered wager, would you believe that? That he never chastised any customer for winning. Ever.

Times have changed.

When the Gambling Commission appeared a decade or so ago, I felt, as many did, for a very long time, that they were an exercise in futility. An expensive one. They took the view operators should know and understand the social code. The very soft hand of regulation. Such policy has demonstrably failed the means test. Let a big gambling firm have their way and they’ll proceed as fits their pockets. Many major operators have paid regulatory fines for compliance failures so pitiful in value, it’s good business sense to continue to behave badly and pay the bill. I feel change has arrived in the new CEO, who is now looking to license reviews, but I also fear that change takes far too long if politicians do not provide her with the necessary backing to get moving on overdue reform of my sector.

With problem gamblers exceeding a staggering two million of us, how do you feel about the regulator’s record, the to date for example on the proliferation of gambling adverts on television? To include questionable claims from even Hollywood star Ray Winstone about how he ‘bets responsibly with Bet365’ whilst reminding us that every 20 minutes? Does he in fact wager with them? And even if he does do as he claims, how is an avalanche of such claims supported?

Are the Senet group acting responsibly in a series of adverts placing the word ‘fun’ with far more prominence to ‘Stop?’ Even in the same sentence! Isn’t this a thorough sham? Clever marketing, telling you gambling is fun.


The Gambling Commission of the past actively shielded big betting from necessary regulation, allowed adverts by the thousand, allowed free bets disguised as money back offers to be shoveled down vulnerable people’s throats, in mediums like the Racing Post, totally unchecked. I mean surely the Commission should be slamming the door on firms lying to customers about money back offers, and removing their licenses. But they didn’t. Why wasn’t and hasn’t the daily bombarding of gambling related ads been slashed, if they are at all serious about protecting problem gamblers and children from betting companies in every single telly break? After people become addicts is precisely the wrong time to close the stable door. The horse has already bolted.

Why is gambling treated in any way different to alcohol or cigarettes, is it some form of special case? Have the firms self-regulated here?  Or doing just as they please from offshore? I welcome the gambling commission, if, that is, they set about overdue and urgent reform in this sector.


A new manager has appeared for the commission of late. What she has been saying and how she has been approaching matters signals I hope a fundamental change in their approach. I for one wish her and her new squad the very best. The following remark holds many truths

‘Self regulation by gambling companies has demonstrably failed consumers’

The subject of FOBT’s in betting shops, creating misery to so many, is highlighted daily by problem gambling groups, and the free press. By free press I do not refer to the Racing Post, shackled as it is to big betting companies. Questions in Parliament are frequent on the subject. It’s so readily apparent of the seriousness of the problem, we don’t need empirical evidence on the matter as argued by the ABB. Frankly it’s a national scandal it has taken so long to be formally addressed. Once again a failure by companies to self-regulate, to control their urgency to make money off of some of the poorest and most vulnerable in society. These executives denying the thoroughly obvious harm such machines cause and refusing unilaterally a necessary and inevitable cut in stakes. If people are committing suicide, out of house and home – you’re a disgrace as a company, as an executive, to be responsible, in any way for such unhappiness. Gambling is supposed to be a fun pastime,  occasionally frustrating of course. Not an all enveloping depression.

It was never and should never have been the intention of government to place casinos every fifty yards apart in our towns and cities.


Here’s a fact. I am one of but a couple of operators left in the UK who remain licensed and regulated here. Every single major betting company operates from offshore havens to avoid taxation and sensible controls. Those of us who do pay our taxes to offer services to UK residents penalised by the evident advantages afforded to offshore giants in British protectorates. Disgusting.

Newspapers, TV networks and other powerful mediums exist solely because they are propped up by sponsorship and advertising by big betting. How can they remain in any way independent challenging what’s going on? Little wonder it is the BBC alone who’ve expressed the most concern as to the behaviour of such companies. Racing also has sold its very soul to big betting – hardly snob value is it? The BHA and the Racing Post in bed together each protecting their financial well being at the expense of consumer rights and fair play.

Big betting often cross sell sportsbook customers sending customers of all denominations free bets for their casinos. Not what the customer signed up for, the far more insidious and dangerous product. Sharp tactics and no mistake, similar to someone who smokes being sent twelve free boxes of cigarettes.. A simple tactic, an unfair one, to induce gamblers toward the more addictive product.

Here’s the rub. Does my firm restrict some customers? Yes, a small proportion of my customers must be. And why? Because some of them unquestionably try to cheat and defraud my business, operating multiple accounts, imagining that it isn’t a clear fraud, utilising clever trading and expensive software to scalp my website for arbitrage and so forth. Members of secret little free bets clubs, scoping the web for these offers, and nothing else. Discussing subverting bookmakers and Banks alike. Coupon cutters. On reading these forums one becomes aware of how warped they have become, dipping to tactics and behaviour so dishonest they cheapen the ideals they claim to strive for. Not the intended honest battle between bookmaker and punter. Bear this in mind, the actions of such low life impinge on the true punter. They should be outlawed, chastised.

But to begin to compete, I also have to bet to similar minimal margins, offer similar deals,  if I am to attract customers in an online market place. There’s little point being 3/1 something if everyone else is 4/1, I’d be as well shutting up shop and joining the 15% decline. Some customers end up inevitably factored because they run business out  of my own, they’re neither licensed, nor pay the taxes due for what is in fact clearly a business, rather than a hobby. Such individuals bet in Bolivian division three if the market spoke in favour of one team or another and as a consequence our price becomes out of line and we attract purely one sided action. Not how a bookmaker survives, being exposed constantly to only ‘smart’ money. Many of these customers wouldn’t give you a bet if the World Cup, Wimbledon final and Grand National all occurred on the same day. To them it’s a business and they consider bookmakers their bank.


Do I hate what I must do to remain in business in that regard by factoring customers or the pricing environment that’s created , absolutely I do – I find myself wedded by website to firms i cannot, and never will, respect, who can make price offers they don’t have to support. Where is the ASA?. I do not have a choice but to compete, but I see absolutely no reason why I should rival a company offering 10/1 Wings Of Eagles to win a race for the benefit of ‘new customers only.’ You cannot walk into Tesco and see a packet of biscuits sold for 2p for ‘new customers only.’

As I see it the Commission, ASA and government, not only needs to work on protection of consumers (going beyond advertising restrictions), but also protection of small businesses that are contributing into this economy in many ways far more than the offshore giants with hundred million pound websites and 200 million annual spend on advertising.

For how long can my industry continue to behave as if it has carte-blanche to create misery by exacerbating problem gambling unchecked, to new and unprecedented levels? To operate unsustainable pricing models and restrict those who can and those who cannot to partake. To price small business out of the equation as they lord it over us from the Isle of Man and pay little to nothing into the economy of this great country whilst plundering the pockets of punters, yes tax paying folk, here.

Not long if decent minded people have their way. Because decent minded people don’t run these operators.










Racing or Lorraine?

‘it’s great to be here’


If I had 50 pence for every time I heard that from a racing pundit or anchor – I would be swimming in a lake of champagne for the rest of my natural. The next time I see anyone from ITV, RUK or ATR mumble those bumbling fumbling words with their plastic smile, staring down a card of 4 runner races, I’m going to send them all to have their balls cut off. And that includes the men.

Before I open my trap. I want to say one thing to the boo boys about commentating on ITV and its output. Everyone knows what a huge star I was for Channel 4, I said what I liked, rattled a few trainers and one very gobby jockey who gets run out of more finishes than Excelebration. The days of pundits with something to say though, appear numbered 🙂

Do I miss Channel 4? Yes very much, it was a terribly professional output, winning awards for its coverage, regardless of what the Self serving Racing Post had to say about it. Led by the best anchor in British sport. Balding.


Am I bitter? Yes, I suppose I am. The suits have replaced a perfectly good product for a clone on the next door channel, who consign the show between The Cooking Channel and babestation, and predictably the numbers have tailed.

Whatever people tell you about how easy it is to find ITV4, it simply isn’t. Their average audience share (I looked it up, – jeez, how sad am I?) is 1%. Yes you got that right. ITV1 However gains 15% of general audiences.

Now we find Racing being bounced onto ITV3. How to relegate a sport to obscurity in very rapid order? Move it about to bolster 1970’s cop show numbers. Anyone not totally dedicated to Racing-simply isn’t going to find it, less bother with it.

Racing was represented by three main parties, all basing their decision purely on the fortunes of ailing racetracks. Messrs Fitzgerald (Racecourse media Group) Bazelgette (Jockey Club Racecourses, the architect of Kempton’s downfall) and of course Harman, the patsy for the BHA. Yet another loser they’ve backed.

These characters signed a deal in the full knowledge they were consigning Racing from terrestrial to satellite. For 4 million I believe the extra was. Why? I name these parties so you can make sure you bombard them with your views.


Of course they envisaged a channel that could match the BBC for the crown jewels, Grand National, Derby, Royal Ascot were areas they imagined we could regain the type of numbers the Beeb gave us. To boot I’m sure global pool bet revenues were a factor to tracks starved of money by bookmakers. Persuading the BBC back to the sport, for less money of course, was not on the table. Why? Beats the hell out of me.

Let’s remember they argued ‘reach’ as the determining factor. That by binning the highly committed Channel 4, showing 90 days live racing a year! Somehow they thought it was achievable to beat their audience with ITV’s better share. Even though that audience share is largely based on Saturday night with Ant & Dec.

They backed a ‘commercial’ channel, who base programming on advertising cake, as opposed to a public service broadcaster, which both Channel 4 and BBC are. This is a key point. They balance every decision not just on money or viewers, but their importance to the community.

So the Lingfield All Weather finals headed to satelite and of course no Opening Show on that morning either. It was felt ‘The Sweeney’ (1970) – too important to sack. Incredible but true. Same true of Cheltenham, the Opening Line on ITV4 at a time racegoers couldn’t watch. ITV were committed to Lorraine. A star around longer than my mother in law.

Therefore up to Cheltenham we had managed circa 3 million less people watching our sport. And of course we know now the Opening Line managed a paltry 31,000 for the first day of the famous Grand National meeting, a record low for Racing. Once again, people acting for this sport contrived to make a giant mess. Don’t panic though – each one of these ‘executives’ will be in their offices on Monday. Everyone in racing sleeps with their sister. Jobs are not performance based in Racing.

The role of the betting based rag the Racing Post cannot be understated either. It shrieked for months about Channel 4’s viewing figures.  When ITV National numbers were embarrisingly announced as far lower than the output of Channel 4, the hypocrisy leapt to the fore in their defence in several notably obsequious columns. Mind you, it’s been a terribly smart move of the Producer of the Opening Show to introduce a revolving door of Post reporters onto its sofa, not least of all the Editor of the Racing Post. I don’t doubt the executives of Channel 4 feel pretty cheated by Bruce Millington et al. Far too few people stood up to say they enjoyed the Channel 4 difference.

Can ITV arrest the decline? Well it certainly has the potential, we all know that. But right now, let’s get one thing absolutely clear. It doesn’t have the commitment. It’s consigned a leading sport to a sub channel on up to 50 days a year. To include some of our most famous events.  ITV simply has to show the resolve Channel 4 did. Of course we know ‘The Professionals (1980) ‘ is likely more viewers than Plumpton, but what Channel 4 never did was sacrifice Racing in favour of John Wayne.

ITV have to be forced to give racing the prominence it deserves as a leading sport. Or the contract has to be set aside. It was a bad deal for the sport. If the architects stand in the way, they should be removed. Recognise the reality and make changes.

The last show of the Franklin era of Channel 4’s Morning Line achieved 350,000 viewers for the 1st day at Aintree. ITV’s quite dreadful Opening Line managed 31,000, and has dipped by 46% on Channel 4’s Morning Line. Of course the output is on the wrong channel, and the wrong time. Noted. But who’s fault is that? Franklin’s crew contained some of the baddest pundits in racing. Notably Francome and Mac. Quite why Big Mac was dropped, when at that time he WAS racing escapes me. It was a poor decision. I don’t doubt one the Channel 4 executive at that time was leaned on to make by those in the sport who think you grow it by telling everyone it’s fabulous. Racing’s most dangerous element.

The coverage has became vanilla, bordering on banal. Francome left of his own accord. I can’t speak for John, but I’m guessing when you remove some of his sidekicks and replace them with those with nothing meaningful to say, he knew his time was up. Should Mac return? Arguable. Should Nick Luck return? Definitely. I never understood the vitriolic attacks against Luck, one of the sports most consumate performers.



Certain producers, and their bosses seem to take the view racing has to be a diet of patronising ‘it’s great to be here’ and  ‘what’s it like to ride a winner?’ Allow me to point out to you that the last crew to grow audiences, were the ones who took dead aim at the sport when it demanded it. It doesn’t stop people going racing. It adds value to a show and interest in the sport, oh yes it really does. If you’re about viewers Mr Cooper (OL Producer), split up the grinning pair of Bell and Harvey. It really is the most appalling fluff. Punters are your audience and they don’t want to hear it. Numbers are shocking and you need surgery. You’re force fed a diet of wonderful industry dramas to utilise. Irish non triers, Windsor prize money, field sizes in jumps pattern races. You ignore it all. Get some power on the sofa and start talking about what people want to hear.


You do have a solution, standing on the grass. Matt Chapman. Extremely popular with viewers on the more enterprising Attheraces. He gets rave reviews, because he dares to speak his mind. Of course I really do understand why Chapman is out doing that thoroughly pointless clerk of the course slot – it’s because you’re frightened of what he might say. He’s not Balding or Luck, isn’t possesed of their polish,  but he engages.

And what happened to betting? Have you any idea what a huge share of audiences watch the show because they’re punters rather than breeders? You’re totally ignoring them. Racing and gambling like Bread and Jam. One exists for the other. Not this beauty of the horse nonsense. Who are these creative geniuses who don’t realise the majority of racing viewers bet on it?

Give Chapman his head as anchor of the Opening Line. Let him succeed or fail. Give him fiery people to bounce off. Put the smiler Harvey out to grass, and discover betting again.


The afternoon show, I have to say I really enjoy. Again though it’s likely to struggle on the wrong channel on its lesser days and if those in front of the camera don’t know how to properly engage the viewer. Chamberlin is ex football. He won’t be used to a diet of ‘marvellous’ which pervades Racing coverage all to often. If you’re about keeping him on the show, there has to be more football about the coverage.


Finally allow me to quote from Andrew Franklin in todays letters page. He maintained racing would likely continue to experience declining numbers if the product didn’t undergo the kind of essential radical reform as undertaken by other sports. Cricket, football, grand prix, rugby. All significantly upped their game whilst we feed people 4 runner heats with horses 20 pounds apart in rating. Further we allow trainers to rip our best races to shreds. The sport is overloaded with product, underpaid in prize money at the middle and lower tiers, desperately struggling in the winter and more and more about a dire all weather content. Racetrack groups have been warring on betting and losing millions in income by extension, that air of snobbish indifference to the needs of betting.  Sport put on to keep tracks in work, and to please snotty trainers. It’s not harsh, it’s fact.

That’s got to be wrong. The current BHA isn’t man enough to take on this giant task, nor does it have the appetite to take on its masters, the racetracks. A new, thoroughly independent advisory has to be created to bring the sport into this century.

ITV, for its part has to forced to place the sport with exactly the same prominence as Channel 4  or it should be dumped. Racing is not a satelite back number.








The real problem gamblers in the UK aren’t the punters.


Live in the UK, and it’s hard not to imagine certain large betting concerns as anything other than global success stories. Market leader Bet365 reported but a few years ago customer sign ups at 14 million. It’s now well past the 23 million mark. Their website appears the best ‘platform’ in sportsbook and gaming. If shares were available, I’d be buying.

How you ‘grow’ a company by such a margin, whilst remaining within UK gambling commission guidelines, is questionable. It’s abundantly clear the company’s move into China, in doing so somehow circumnavigating banking laws, has been a huge winner. In spite of the reasonable objections of the Chinese government. In their state, gambling is illegal. Even if it were legal, they should be entitled to reasonable taxes from the same. Bet365 lawyers argue it isn’t illegal if they trade with Chinese customers from another state. In other words, their lawyers have made it somehow acceptable. I fancy Bet365 execs won’t be vacationing in China any time soon. Their stay would be permanent.

Our own Gambling Commission set out its view on black market activity at its inception.

14.5 For each of these markets, the Commission will ask operators why they think provision of gambling facilities is not illegal either because they are licensed to operate in that jurisdiction or because they have satisfied themselves that it is not illegal for them to provide gambling facilities to those players. If businesses are relying on legal advice as part of evidence of responsible due diligence we will expect businesses to tell us who they have been advised by – we will not expect to see legal opinions as such but will wish to understand the legal rationale.

Fine, so the previous Commission executive decided not to pursue the matter, and awards licenses to bet365 to trade with UK customers dutifully every year.

Bet365 has also taken its business to Gibraltar, from where it’s safer from regulation and of course taxation. It has joined virtually every online betting company who originated in the UK, and do business with its citizens. Racing now ‘negotiates’ a voluntary deal with 365 and others there for its share of earnings on the sport. I really hope the Spanish invade that troublesome enclave. Such situations don’t make you popular with regulators, or governments. Bet365, for the time being, don’t seem concerned.

I say times change. Governments change and critically the regulator has changed. It’s muscled up. New management have arrived.
Leaving aside Ray Winstone, regulators, and governments for a second, I have observed over the last decade a marked deterioration in the relations between Bookmakers, and their customers. I regularly hear, see, and experience examples of poor behaviour. Relations between the two parties are at an all time low. I’m surprised anyone signs up.

Cloudy terms and conditions, offers based on tiny stakes, over generous odds, best odds guarantees, (even enhanced BOG), and free bets. A culture of giveaways, in which if the savvy customer habitually partakes, he finds himself restricted. Ostracised. A pariah. A beg-a-bet culture in the place of the former friendly ‘war’ between bookmaker and his customer. These days, the customer is part of a number crunching exercise.People sign up not out of loyalty, but naked reward. My Father would not be party to this style of business.


Nobody writes to you from these companies to thank you for your business. if you bet with Bet365 for example, you’re probably unaware who the bookmaker really is – they are in fact a private company. There’s no dialogue between bookmaker and client. Because you’re no longer a client. Sign up to lose. Win and move on.
When did it become the job of bookmakers to offer prices, so unsustainable, they choose not to lay a bet to so many of their customers at the odds they advertise? Isn’t this a trading standards issue? If not, then why not?

Have bookmakers ever behaved so poorly? It’s no wonder their image as acceptable business is at an all time low.

Firms such as my own, in the absolute minority, focus on service. It distresses me on occasion to have to restrict a customer for persistent money trading. It’s a catch 22 situation, I have to be competitive to encourage new business, yet the odds I often have to proffer, to compete, are occasionally  unsustainable. We do our best though to make the customer experience more akin to British Airways Club, than Ryanair, and a punter who is fair with me, will be returned the compliment. I would see the practice of offering a price, and then not laying a fair bet outlawed. Why are punters treated with such disdain by bookmakers?
I haven’t been in a betting shop, since I stopped working in them in the 80’s. The landscape has changed of course, with Labour’s inglorious attempt to reform the gambling act in 2005. At a stroke they turned LBO’s from sportsbooks to mini casinos. It is an exageration to describe the fixed odds betting terminals (FOBT’s) as akin to ‘crack cocaine.’ It is true, however it was never, and should never, have been the intention of good governance to create a mini casino in every high street.


I make the following statements with absolute confidence.
FOBT’s are clearly massively addictive. They most certainly are the most profitable arm of any betting shop. They most certainly are being used regularly by the criminal element to launder money, (most likely unchallenged, staff aren’t after all policemen!) They have contributed greatly to problems in gambling. They have put folk out of house home, and worse. They contribute to violent behaviour in shops themselves, with machines routinely being vandalised and staff threatened.
Associations like the ABB will of course go about their business arguing against such claims. Indeed the only organisation outside the ABB to stand with the bookmakers on the subject of FOBTs, rather perversely, is the BHA. Another loser they’ve backed!  A focus on racing, rather than money, is long overdue from this body.
It is childish however to deny there’s no truth in every one of the points I have just put forward. There are degrees in everything, of course. I do not accept the argument about free choice in gambling if it creates a culture of misery for punters and hatred for the operators as perpetrators. We are not put on this planet to make gambling a nationwide problem. No one, Bruce Millington take note, walks out of a betting shop telling their mates what a great afternoon they had on a FOBT. They might well however say they enjoyed a day at the races, win or lose. It’s unlikely people walk out of Ascot hating Johnny Weatherby for the experience he creates. LBO operators can’t make the same bold claim.


Executives in charge of major betting firms operating FOBT’s have done themselves, and the industry they represent, no service whatsoever in their failures to aggressively deal with the evident problems they create. Or to pay to clear up their mess.  Acting like ostriches in the face of criticism from your own customers, reporters, Dispatches, Panorama, MP’s, focus groups, responsible gambling quangos, is neither wise nor realistic. Arguing there’s no ’empirical evidence’ FOBTs exacerbate problem gambling and damage relations is plain stupid. Short term profits equal long-term pain.
Finally, and before I give you my conclusions, there’s the issue of advertising. I’ve just watched Konta defeating her opponent in sterling fashion in Miami. Good girl that. In every AD break we were treated to a different gambling operator peddling their wares with their Hollywood actors. It appears the only control on the number of adverts the operators get to display is SKY’s policy of operators per AD break. Television, newspapers, radio assaulted by so many gambling companies it’s impossible to avoid. Without these adverts the Racing Post couldn’t exist, in so many ways.

At any time of the day – even when my children are getting ready for school, they’re faced with this insidious material. My Son is a bright fellah, I never talk to him about my business , nor will I encourage him into it. Yet he told me that weeks after he turned 18 he had a Betway account because of interest in E sports. He describes to me how easy it was to open an account and particularly to deposit. In his case using Paypal. He describes how everytime he visits the site he’s encouraged to deposit. How he received regular e mails encouraging him to gamble. How many Betway boosts he encountered offering enhanced odds. How they advertise money back on horse racing, in the form of free bets. Deposit ten pounds, get sixty to play with. And how many free bet offers stretch him to wager in other areas of the website. Most notably gaming. There he reports large winning prize numbers flash on the page, as inducement to wager in that section of the site. He felt many of these offers and refunds were specifically designed to encourage him into more addictive areas of the site. Were this your Son, would you not be more than concerned at his description of such activities?


He also reported seeing Man City at 12/1 from Paddy Power to beat Arsenal today. I’ve seen such examples on many occasion, from a variety of companies. In fact such offers are thoroughly misleading. In fact most offers of this nature pay you the correct odds in cash terms for your wager, and the rest in ‘free bets.’ In said regard, the 12/1 in betting terms as punters understand it, isn’t in any way factual. Punters understand 12/1 to £5 as £60 profit. It’s only once one researches the often complex terms and conditions, that you in fact find that the offer is actually refers to free bets. Coupons for more wagers. Exactly why is such advertising permissable?


Do the operators, peddling such filth, get together to control their output? Clearly not. The same executives who peddle their FOBT wares refusing to agree any cut in televised output, for fear of a non compliant operator jumping into the AD space they’ve left behind. Well lads, a cut is coming. Continue with no self regulation, and I see gambling following tobacco into advertising history. Good riddance.

How many problem gamblers are there in the UK? Let me hazard a more than educated guess.

2 million. That’s two million. Look at the gambling culture, the assault of advertising. Every telly programme and every high street. You’re naive if you think i stuck my finger in the air for effect.


These days therefore we have policies, incepted and encouraged by CEO’s and marketing of large betting concerns, increasing problem gambling to record levels. Want to fund your betting account? There’s a buffet of ways of doing it, to include credit card payments. Money you don’t actually have!


Proliferation of advertising, counter productive promotions, unsustainable pricing structures and avoidance of tax and levy. It’s more than fair to say, looking at recent history, that bookmakers have never been so unpopular with Government, regulators, and critically, their own customers. You can’t blame the regulators, clients or protest groups for their exasperation with this sector of industry.
Whilst the Government has stuck its hand out, for its share of FOBT revenues, I don’t doubt for a second they are deeply uncomfortable with matters we evidence every day. Pressure on Ministers from back benchers with questions in the House are a regular feature. New leadership in Government, and at the Gambling Commission, indeed new experience levels there, has brought fresh impetus to bringing these firms firmly to heel. An important supporter of betting, John Whittingdale, recently leaked what the rest of us had been waiting on for years. That machines in shops were heading for some serious regulation.  I welcome that.

Executives at large betting have ignored, or denied the issues for far too long. It’s regrettable of course people will lose jobs, but that’s the price of very necessary control in gamblng. If you’re the Chairman of a large betting company, and you’ve a CEO running about telling everyone they’re all wrong about the requirement for temperance in how you behave, you’d better source a leader fully committed to self regulation. Or you’ll find yourself without a license.

The last chief executive of the Gambling Commission, Jenny Williams, permitted betting to make claims about ‘money back’ offers, which were nothing of the sort, without fear of control.  She took the view licensees should know and observe their responsibilities. The ‘cool’ hand of regulation was in fact in absentia. Leave a supergiant to ‘self regulate’ and they’ll announce betting into China as legal, or blitz you with adverts. The new Chief Executive is made of entirely sterner stuff. Those selling alcohol, or cigarettes simply aren’t permitted to approach their customers in a manner condoned by previous administrators. Knowingly offering free bets and hooking clients into more addictive products by offering those wagers conditional on utilising a casino product, is, quite frankly, abhorrent practice.

Adverts simply have to be curtailed. The situation is beyond control right now. Why we suffer this assault to our weaknesses on a daily basis is beyond my comprehension. We don’t permit addictive marketing on our screens. Tobacco and alcohol are out. Why therefore do we bombard our children with Hollywood actors peddling the next goalscorer? It’s obscene, and long overdue for Government and regulators to intervene and put a stop to it. Make certain you add your voice to this important call for reasonable behaviour.

Big betting has to pay for its ills. Hefty fees to the gambling commission certainly for those creating this problem gambling environment,  and a very substantial portion of their revenues to be utilised to fund independent research and treatment of problem gamblers. They need to learn how to behave responsibly as businesses. Profit at the expense of people simply isn’t acceptable.
It’s coming. If you’ve shares in these operators, expect a dip. Don’t imagine they can all survive the extra regulatory burden, despite their impressive scale. I see job losses, household betting names disappearing


The real problem gamblers in the UK aren’t the punters. It’s the bookmakers. Pray for regulation.

I told you so..

The Centaur Arena could, quite probably, win the award for the smelliest sporting venue in sport. 4 enormous bars pump out Guinness at an alarming rate. The effluent of which has to go somewhere. Most of it is deposited by the bookies joints. People bet, fart and leave. If the Irish harboured any apparent animosity for the English, it’s down to Oliver Cromwell. NAP. Nothing to do with the bookies. Have pity and hold it in! The Centaur is a purpose built arena and our success as on course bookies there can depend on weather. Or so you’d think. In fact Wednesday, when it was warm and sunny, was busier than Thursday. Strange truism. Give em a pint, a pie and a giant screen and they will come.


I take a substantial team to Cheltenham to handle the number of bets and make the payouts quick. The churn is vital for bookies, if I have their winnings – they won’t bet. I employ three fit birds to take the bets in a scandalous and outrageous attempt to use sex to sell betting tickets. No they don’t strip, at least not all the way. But it’s a more pleasant betting experience than betting with the old men outside 😊  My online website goes into overdrive, we’re not Betfair, but we make sure our racing odds and football match the likes of Bet3.65. It’s a critical week for betting and racing. And for my private client operation!


Wear tweed or a silly Guinness hat down any high street in the country, people would laugh and point. It’s ridiculous garb, but Chelteniers wear it with pride. I used to have a hot girlfriend who bought herself a tight mini skirt in tweed. She looked the dogs bollocks, but everyone else looks plain silly. You need a new uniform..The fellah who led in the Gold Cup winner by the way, wasn’t wearing tweed – what’s that about? Didn’t HE get the letter?


Since I was a very small boy, pre-gambling commission sensibilities and health and safety, I’ve taken bets at the Festival. It’s not hard to love the four day bash. So let’s dispel any myths I don’t enjoy and prosper from it. I love the whole bash and the organisation that goes into it. Clearly we all do. It’s the pervasive and damaging influence it has on the five months which run up to the great affair that has to change. I’ve been roundly critical of the impact on fields and competitiveness of top racing in National Hunt up to March. If as a regulator you’re not prepared to deal with the issues raised – and they are easily dealt with by the way, then you deserve to be criticised by pundits such as me. Although in this case, I have felt fairly isolated. Most racing commentators butter their bread by force feeding the masses a diet of ‘everything’s great’ for months on end. It’s so depressingly boring, I wonder how networks like Racing UK gain a single subscriber. Sport is full of controversy. Football embraces it. It adds to the quality and watchability of the whole thing. What’s wrong with admitting our failures, entertaining viewers and in such a way progressing the whole thing? Controversy will add, not detract interest in racing.

I understand why things are as they are. The top echelons of National Hunt trainers are some of the stuffiest men in sport. I sat last year next to Gordon Elliott on Ch4. I criticised openly policy which had top horses afforded cosy racecourse gallops after racing, after months of sitting in their boxes, instead of entertaining the public, as they are being paid to do. By punters and sponsors. Elliott’s indignant retort to me ‘what do you know about training hosses?’


As if that makes any difference? I don’t have to play football to know Leicester players deserve the collective sack. Nor do I have to train a racehorse, Gordon, to understand the practice of shielding horses from competitive racing and eating grass for months is bad for the sport. Such attitudes and practices have to be stamped out. Douvan is touted the best horse in racing. Where was he in the best races? Messing about in egg and spoon events at Cork. Real Madrid playing Bristol City once every two months. A genuine sporting farce. If ever a connection deserved to fail, it’s Ricci with Douvan. If you’ve the best – get him out winning King George’s and Tingle Creeks. Kuato Star did. Remember that one? He didn’t shy from competition, trip, opposition. Douvan, Faugheen, Annie Power, Limini – the list of notable absentees or fails of Rich Ricci runners ar Cheltenham is long and distinguished. The policy of avoidance is a notable fail.

There are those who take issue with me saying such things. Comments like Rich Ricci can do as he likes because he pays the bills ta da ta da, (with our money by the way).. To those I say this. You can’t love a sport if you believe sticking a horse in a poor heat at Cork once every three months is in any way worthwhile.unless you’re talking through your pocket. Don’t forget Rich enriched himself at that crooked little organisation Barclays, dutifully paying off their fines I see, and now more famous for closing the accounts of legitimate businesses. In that regard they currently resemble bookies. Ricci of course has gambled freely with our money, now finds it difficult to do the same when it is his own charges that are involved.


The whole Douvan drama I enjoyed thoroughly. There will be a world of wailing as to his injury and debate one way or tother how it happened and what ifs. For most books the race was a meaningless betting heat – not the entire point I know. I am very strongly of the view- and I’ve made it plain for months, almost on my own I might add, that this diet of avoidance has a price. You rob the fans and indeed the horse of potential rich heritage. I view Ricci and his totally negative approach as a cancer on the sport.  Sending Champion hurdler elects to the Mares and a weekly buffet of excuses dutifully peddled by an all too tame racing press. Sorry to most hacks, but it is true. Folk aren’t buying your papers, and your columns are shrinking because we know Annie Power won’t face Faugheen. Yet you print it. Fine if you’d rather sell betting tickets than newspapers!

Mullins seems a jolly amiable fellah – and doubtless he’s doing what’s best for the stable by ensuring the owner sending him horses worth 300 thousand plus a pop continues to do just that. Every trainer needs material. He threw his eggs into one basket and lost Gigginstown. He left top animals out of the best of races, and now they’re injured. It’s arguable Douvan arrived too fresh to the Festival. It’s arguable horses bred to race are harder to train if they aren’t sent out to actually race. Only arguable I understand. Fans of the sport, cast your mind back to Kuato Star, and Denman. Had Ricci and Mullins trained these two, we would never have seen it actually happen. Fact.

Those of you who watched the Morning Line will have heard me criticise policy that leaves stars on the sidelines. Nobody likes to hear I told you so, but I did tell you so. I was hard on Willie for losing O’Leary when the topic was raised. It was simply poor business. No doubt there’s more to it than money. I mean who doesn’t negotiate bills?

By the way. Mullins can sure train, Walsh can ride with great skill and sets horses up to fences in a manner I’ve never seen before. Head down controlling the stride. Elliott is unquestionably talented and deserves his moment in the sun. Let’s not confuse criticism of policy with their talents. I congratulate them on their performances- even if I done my cocos fielding against some of their winners..

To progress matters the regulators, and the influential JCR in this case simply have to grasp a few nettles and take on these overbearing trainers. Championship events must have pre-qualifying criteria. A minimum condition of entry. A minimum number of graded heats and class must have been attempted. It’s a norm in other sports. Racecourse gallops should be stamped out for horses who intentionally sit on the sidelines since December- or worse. And the total number of graded heats has to be slashed. Every single decision should be based on the betterment of the sport. Trainers will adapt. Mullins will not avoid Cheltenham if you tell him to sign up on February 1st. After the trials meeting if you ask why I mention this timeline. Ante Post wagering will return as currently it’s a dead duck.Interestingly, conditions of entry to the festival favours the Jockey CLub, who’s lesser graded heats have been turned into rather dull events by the withdrawal of top stock. Notable the King George, only saved by the enterprise and commitment of one Colin Tizzard.

There have also to be maximum ratings in certain races. Such as the Mares, to stop Champion Hurdle contenders plundering prizes lesser owners and trainers covet. They deserve their shot at fame and fortune at our best Festival. It’s vital to small owners and trainers. Expect them to pony up for horses and then see any chance they have of glory robbed by Annie Power? It’s simply poor business.


Channel 4 I miss for their commitment and professionalism. I feel the new outside format for ITV was a required change, their afternoon show is really enjoyable, and Chapman for me stands out. It’s right a footballing man heads it up. There’s far too many ‘cosy’ pundits in this sport with absolutely nothing worthwhile to say. It’s right to stick a camera in a bettors face -bookie or punter, and get involved in the fracas. So many people watching have had a bet. The rest need resuscitation. I’ve not been on, but if they do ask me I’ll shake a few trees for you and maybe add a few more viewers. It’s not important if you agree or not with a pundit – just that it’s said if it has merit. Opening Line needs to move forward an hour and as most of the racegoing public have left by the time the show comes on.

I don’t agree with the moaners who think the festival is either too expensive, or too busy. Bums on seats answers that one. Will we all be there next year? God willing, yes. Will the regulators listen to my calls for more control on how the festival plays on the rest of the programme? Well, they should. To continue with the way it’s going, with northern racing and many trainers suffering, poor fields in graded heats and stars avoiding each other isn’t a recipe for success at all. Unless, that is, you’re happy with a five month chat about Cheltenham annually – and nothing else. I’d say it’s time for a well publicised crisis meeting, and let’s call it that, to show our commitment to jump racing. We all love it, it cannot be permitted to continue as a one week event. Show your support with comments on twitter – people are listening. Show you care too about this great sport.


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’


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..


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. .


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.


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?


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.


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.










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.

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


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..

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.

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.


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.

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?

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