BETTING ODDITIES: Never normal again

BETTING ODDITIES: In his latest weekly blog, DAVID STEWART takes a sideways look at some of the stories making the news in the betting world and beyond.


We’re all in the market of predictions but it’s so hard to predict the economic and sporting landscape when we emerge from lockdown.

Whilst ‘tough’ seems the most appropriate adjective, there are degrees of toughness which will no doubt vary by business.

There will also be opportunities – those precious green shoots to help fuel a long term recovery.

The enforced break at least allows time for reflection and three areas of the betting game that I think will change for ever are:


It will be interesting to see whether the Racing Post goes back to a print edition after their temporary cessation.

I was part of the team that launched the paper on 15 April 1986 and still remember the late editor Graham Rock proudly holding the first edition in the air at around midnight in the Raynes Park HQ.

It was a pioneering publication – mainly because it was one of the first newspapers to be printed in colour.

Times change and as Terry Norman has highlighted in the latest #BettingPeople interview today’s audience are all digital based and the print boat has now sailed.

The fewer people that buy the print edition the more expensive it becomes to print for those that are left. In the same way as getting 2,000 leaflets printed is much cheaper per leaflet than a 1,000.

🔺 ODDITIES PREDICTION: The Racing Post will become a digital only product in 2020.


Racing has never enjoyed better coverage thanks to Sky Racing, Racing TV and ITV Racing.

But, when you step back and look at what we have, surely splitting the courses into separate channels is rather random and doesn’t help the sport to be cohesive?

It’s roughly half and half – Racing TV generally getting the higher class meetings, Sky Racing what’s left and ITV showcasing the best of the sport on a Saturday and the high class midweek action.

The business models behind two of the channels are advertising and for the other subscriptions but is it time to have a more joined up approach?

Could less be more? Could a single channel work free to air? If the argument against that is that there is too much racing then couldn’t the product be spaced out better?

I’m convinced it’s not in the long term interest to put some of the best action behind a paywall. It’s very hard how to see an audience can be grown in these circumstances with such a barrier to entry.

That’s where ITV Racing should do the job and whilst the channel has achieved decent ratings the lack of an agreement beyond the end of 2020 is now looking very ominous and I fear that ITV might only want the Crown Jewel races from next year.

🔺 ODDITIES PREDICTION: Discussions advance to a single UK and Ireland horse racing channel. ITV Racing to continue with a slimmed down schedule in 2021.


Remember when things were normal and the only way you could get a home video on ITV was on You’ve Been Framed and get weighed in with £250 if you made the cut?

How times have changed. Advanced technologies and easy to use smartphones have meant everyone can be a reporter and everyone seems to want to be one too.

The lockdown has changed broadcasting forever. Home recorded videos (as I said last week, ideally with a bookcase background) have been born out of necessity but have also been readily accepted by the broadcasting giants and their respective social media channels.

How will this change the racing industry? In a big way – can see some Cheltenham Preview Nights being held on Zoom and more coverage from the racecourse …….. but that of course depends on whether the courses continue to treat social media videos as a threat rather than a golden marketing opportunity.

🔺 ODDITIES PREDICTION: Progressive racecourses start to embrace social media videos. A plethora of video content will emerge – but only the quality content will survive.


The Coronavirus pictures from around the world continue to haunt and tug at all the heart strings. One of many that stood out for me this week was the queue of hundreds of ambulances waiting to deliver patients to a hospital in Russia.


So many great songs from the sixties but how many lyrics were written under, er, the influence of ‘flower power’?

A case in point m’lud. Lily The Pink, especially this verse ….

Aunty Milly, ran willy-nilly
When her legs they did recede
So they rubbed on medicinal compound
Now they call her Milly Pede


A light hearted video to finish with which in no way is meant to condone being outside without good reason but this did bring a chuckle and that counts for a lot at the moment.

Stay safe.


DAVID STEWART is a freelance digital betting producer and journalist. His CV includes: The Sun, The Sporting Life, Racing Post, At The Races, The Sportsman, lead feature writer for Sky’s Betview magazine and senior producer Timeform Radio.

Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.