AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

SIMON NOTT blog: Ignoring Racing’s Biggest Draw…

We have been making #BettingPeople interviews since 2017 when Neil Channing got the ball rolling.

He still holds the record for the most exes and that includes flying to Gibraltar to interview Victor Chandler. To be totally accurate, we recorded several interviews before Dave Stewart hit on the all-encompassing #BettingPeople title. Those already in the can were retrospectively rebranded but you’d not notice the join.

From the start, Ben Keith, owner of Star Sports’ idea was to create a ‘Wikipedia of The Game’. It seemed like a tall order when I first pointed an iPhone at Neil Channing and asked him a question. It was a very lucky first choice too. I did have an easy ride as far as a near-virgin interviewer, Neil just read my questions, then sat there and answered them as I sat behind the phone and nodded unseen. That was handy as I’d have no doubt spluttered and stuttered all the way through. The really lucky thing was that Neil is a professional punter. We didn’t realise it then, but professional gamblers are box office.

280 interviews later, if we didn’t know it then, we know it now. Analysts do love a good sample size, going into our seventh year, we have a good sample size. The evidence is overwhelming. The fact is, and I’m fairly confident that we can call it fact and not a guess-up, is that the thing that draws people to horseracing, above all other, is gambling. Not just above, but way above.

I have some fantastic memories of interviewing racing people that have done amazing things. They certainly deserved to achieve the sort of viewing figures that professional gamblers do. Whilst inspirational people with a tale to tell will always have their place in the on-going #BettingPeople series. They are watched and enjoyed by thousands but the fact is they don’t get the same figures.

In my early days, I spent a memorable day at Newton Abbot racecourse, from dawn ‘till dusk recording the work of the racecourse staff on raceday. I was even allowed to film from the safety vehicle following the horses. Experiences money can’t buy for most racegoers, all there for them to watch. People did watch, but not in the numbers we got for Neil Channing.

Racing people that are happy to send 15 minutes a day watching interviews are mostly likely to do so if the topic is betting. It’s not just punters that get the figures, though they are the top eight of the all-time top ten. The two interlopers are colourful bookmakers Roger ‘The Bastard of Billingsgate’ Barton and Micky ‘The Asparagus Kid’ Fletcher.

Right at the top is apex punting predator Patrick Veitch, followed by Gearoid ‘Icy’ Norris who must be the polar opposite of Veitch, then flamboyant 1980’s mega punter Terry Ramsden, embedded in the pro-punting bedrock since those days Mark Holder with larger than life Harry ‘The Dog’ Findlay in fifth.

I didn’t ask Dave to keep going pulling up the records, but it’s a fair wager you’d keep getting betting related content throwing up the big viewing figures. These figures should really be gold dust to the horseracing industry, they are free to digest them.
I wonder what other industry, knowing the data would chose to ignore it. I’m guessing that these figures aren’t news to anyone that might read from the governing bodies or media platforms that cover our sport.

Isn’t it a fact that the majority of people that are attracted to and then support horseracing throughout their lives do so because of gambling? They are interested in winning money from their hobby. They are interested in being informed by people who can help them do so. They are interested in betting moves. They are interested in hearing about big bets, late money in the betting and they like to see the colourful larger-than-life characters that still inhabit racecourses.

The industry cannot attract new people to horseracing by promoting the aspects of the sport they wished people were drawn to it by. The facts are that a huge majority of people are attracted to the sport by betting. Most people only watch the racing because they have had a bet on it. It’s nearly all about betting, the dreams of winning a nice few quid, very little else, it’s about betting and finding winners.

Racing trying to ignore that fact, hoping if they ignore betting it’ll go away are in for a nasty surprise. It’s the people that will go away if their interests aren’t catered to, not the desire to bet. If ever there was a time to get behind the betting aspect of racing, when people’s freedom of choice is being eroded by gambling regulation, it’s now.

Betting is intrinsic in the survival of horseracing, to deny it, rather than support it is a huge mistake that the industry will likely never recover from.


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

Simon Nott is author of: Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring
available on Kindle 



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