BETTING ODDITIES: Racecourse Radio Silence

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.

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.


“Lessons will be learned” often gets trotted out after racing fiascos and let’s hope this time it will be a seminal moment for racecourses and their communication.

I was at my local track Sandown today for what was, up until the last race, a great day of winter jumping action.

The final race was marred by the tragic heart-attack suffered by Houblon Des Obeaux and condolences to his connections of owners Julian Blackwell & Mrs Angus Maclay and everyone at Venetia Williams yard. He’s been a great warrior.

It was the sequence of events which followed which left plenty to be desired.

A solitary yellow flag, not being waved particularly vociferously was never going to be particularly informative to jockeys at the tail end of a 3m 5f chase on soft ground – especially given they were, at the exact time, trying to negotiate a bypass manoeuvre around the stricken horse.

In fairness the ‘ding dong’ of a stewards enquiry sounded almost immediately after the horses had crossed the line (pictured above) but then, disgracefully, radio silence followed until the result of the 3.35pm race was finally declared void at 4.15pm.

I’ve no great issue with the length of the enquiry – but to maintain silence for that period of time with bookmakers and punters awaiting news is unacceptable. Just how many racegoers left the course without an inkling that their ‘losing’ ticket would turn out to be a money back slip?

At the very least all the giant screens around the course should have displayed a prominent message along the lines of “enquiry still in progress please retain all tickets” – you couldn’t have missed it in the fading light alongside regular PA updates.

It’s a bit like being stuck on a train. It’s reassuring to hear the guard to update every few minutes – even if the train shows no signs of moving.

The long term answer, I believe, is to have total transparency and engagement with the audience and televise these enquiries but that seems to be some way off.

One of the biggest criticisms in football with VAR is that the paying punters at the match don’t feel involved when decisions get reviewed in Stockley Park and that can’t be right.

The on course audience in racing deserve far much more than the current ‘waiting for white smoke’ to find out the result of a secret discussion.


In the red corner the John Lewis Christmas advert costing £7 million
In the blue corner the Hafod Hardware Christmas advert costing £100

It’s not always about money. It’s also about creativity. And as a side note, the sooner snooty photographers realise you can do good quality work with an iphone over their overly expensive and often outdated kit the better. It’s a brand new world snappers.

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