Let’s hope Racing Right is not a Pyrrhic victory
On approximately 1.26pm on Wednesday Chancellor George Osborne stated in his Budget speech: “In the week after Cheltenham we will support the British Racing Industry by introducing a Horserace Betting Right.”
Fair play to the devotees and the passionate who have campaigned for the "Racing Right," whereby bookmakers will be required to pay for the right to accept bets on the sport. Here’s hoping the research done to attain this was meticulous and thorough, and that this doesn’t end up as a Pyrrhic victory.
The Racing Right is monumentally historic for the sport. The Levy has, since 1963, helped fund our sport. But racing’s share of the betting cake is disintegrating; from many years ago captivating a vast portion of punting interest to now, when various mitigating factors have reduced racing’s slice to a fast-diminishing sliver.
This announcement could re-shaped the history and dynamic of our sport. But how is this all going to pan out? The sport must tread with caution, as there has already been hint of many legal wrangles to overcome, plus there is a little matter of a General Election in May.
One observation I had was both William Hill and Ladbrokes shares went up in the immediate Budget aftermath. When you think how reactive they were before and after Annie Power’s defeat, were they expecting the announcement, or a worse case scenario? There are reports that Annie Power's fall could have saved the levy £3m to £4m!
With this in mind bookmakers have shareholders to answer to, and in order to continue to show tidy profits they will have to recoup the extra outgoings from somewhere. What racing has to be minded of is the threat of a form of levy on all other sports.
Out of interest, Thursday's World Cup Cricket quarter-final between India and Bangladesh provided more turnover in one match than the whole of the Thursday's British race meetings put together on the exchanges. Of course, this has a lot to do with the same money being continuously backed and laid, but you get the idea.
I waded through all newspaper Budget comments, coverage and supplements and there was little on the Racing Right. What was there mainly was a carbon copy of the other - there was more afforded to the appointment of Jim Mullen as Ladbrokes Chief Executive in the following days.
There is sure to be some delicate and tactful negotiations and discussions over the development of Racing Right but I hope there is realization that racing has to continue to up its game and compete with other sports, Cheltenham Festivals crop up among every week.
New Jockeys' Championship:
Please do not get me started on the new format to the Jockeys’ Championship, which will now start at Guineas weekend and end on Champions’ Day.
I would challenge for an Olympic medal in cynicism.
What are the orchestrators of this new format hoping to achieve? If in a few years the names of the top three to five jockeys on the Flat are on the tip of the nation’s tongues then humble pie will be eaten.
It is my opinion that beyond Frankie Dettori, those not involved in racing would do well to name another jockey on the Flat. There would be more of a chance of Lester Piggott and Willie Carson being named than Ryan Moore or Richard Hughes. Perhaps there may be a small chance of Emma-Jayne Wilson being remembered for her antics at the Shergar Cup? Or am I being too critical?
A new format is not going to improve familiarity outside of racing unless it is aligned to something else, or generate massive promotion.
Perhaps there should be a Winter/Spring Championship, and then one over Summer/Autumn for those who want to enjoy the rewards of warmer climates and bigger purses, which would of course also span the Qipco British Champion Series.
Starts on time:
Now briefly on to starts. Much has been stated and discussed on the matter, but one thing worth including in any debate is the fact that if there is any delay, whether it be for runners being called back or whatever else, in the time that takes betting odds fluctuate. In certain circumstances, therefore, delays at the start can indirectly cost punters!
It’s my week off so no surprises that the Cricket World Cup has captured my attention. Once New Zealand’s quarter-final against the West Indies is over I’ll be spooling through the Cheltenham Festival races to see if there are any horses other than Special Tiara and Knight Of Noir to follow at Aintree.
Tanya Stevenson's Saturday tips:
2.00 Newbury: Pepite Rose at 4-1 with Ladbrokes
3.10 Newbury: Financial Climate at 5-1 with SkyBet
Tanya Stevenson's Saturday pointers:
1.25 Newbury - John Haine Memorial Novices' Hurdle:
Five of the last ten favourites have won including Riverside Theatre in 2009 and Sign Of A Victory last year.
Nicky Henderson has a 33% strike rate with his hurdlers at Newbury this season.
2.00 Newbury - Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase:
Pepite Rose has won three of her four races at Newbury.
Jamie Moore has ridden Grey Gold on ten occasions to three wins, two seconds and two thirds.
2.35 Newbury - EBF & TBA Mares' 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle Finale:
Nicky Henderson has won the race four times in eight years.
Seven of the last ten winners came from the first three in the betting.
All of the last ten winners were no older than six.
3.10 Newbury - Ultima Business Solutions Silver Jubilee Handicap Chase:
Handy Andy has won three of his six runs at the course.
Nine of the last ten winners came from the first two in the betting.
Endeavour is having his 19th run at the course having won five times and finished second twice and third twice.
Landecker has won three of his four runs at Kelso.
Knockara Beau has never finished out of the first three in nine races at the course, winning five.
Stopped Out has won four of his seven Kelso races.