I always used to think that the SP not being returned from racecourse bookmakers would be the beginning of the end for the betting ring, and in the ‘knock on’ – the end for some racecourses.
It looks long odds-on that the industry SP is embedded and that the off-course market have settled their last bets at on-course prices but I’ve changed my mind. This could be the new dawn for the betting ring, if the layers play their cards right. Anyone who went racing on a regular basis before the pandemic would be aware of the value that was to be had on course. It was a competitive market and likely to be even more so in the future.
The industry SP appears to be compressed at the head of the market while the bigger prices are inflated to give the illusion of value remaining constant. At the moment punters have no choice, apart from the exchanges, but they will have when racing resumes in earnest.
Quite when that is going to be is extremely frustrating for on-course bookmakers, certainly the forgotten element of the racing industry. What we do know is that they have a fair bit of time to get organised. By that I mean get everything in place to let punters know what they are missing. They need to be able to return an accurate SP for comparison.
There have often been, in my opinion largely ill-informed, voices protesting that the official mechanism didn’t reflect the true value to be had in the ring. If that’s what the majority feel then maybe it’s time for a rethink, they can come up with a formula. When they have, get their computer software people working on it. It needs to be ready as soon as a race is run on course with a betting ring present so there is an ‘On-Course SP’ to deliver to the press in comparison to the ‘Industry’ version.
Back to the voices that derided the system and the ‘off-course bluffers’. The ring could go one step further. There was a time when a bookmaker would have to advertise their maximum liability. That is if punter knew if a bookmaker had the £2000 sign up and a horse was 2/1, they knew they could have a grand on. If the bookmakers went back to that system a ‘Betfair SP’ of sorts could be returned on a well-publicised website. That would say how much you could have had on at the off had you been on course – based on the bookmakers’ maximum liability. For example, £200 at 5/4, £6000 at 6/5 and £40,000 at 11/10 the Industry SP 10/11 jolly. The same could be generated for all the field, instantly as the horses were running. For information only, serious punters would soon realise that the racecourse was the place to be.
Maybe go one step further and list what was available for each horse at what price with each bookmaker. Social media is there to relentlessly push those figures. Judging by the recent returns the on-course firms would organically hammer the industry figures without betting to margins that would ultimately ensure a retirement in the workhouse. The more buoyant the on-course market becomes the more punters will realise it was the only place to bet, the bigger the draw.
What do you say on-course bookies?
Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring