Sunday, 31 August 2014

BetButler goes bust

No shock here, another UK-facing bet brokerage has gone under. Customers have complained about withdrawal delays for over 12 months, while the UK Gambling Commission sat there and did nothing. They only appear to be interested in sustaining that overrated, self-perpetuating industry called compliance. Gotta make sure those boxes on the fancy forms are ticked!

Earlier in the year, BetButler were even allowed to take over the debts of Bodugi, the failed social gambling site of Dave Nevison, whose customers had already suffered cash flow problems - talk about a double hit!

Hat tip to BettingTools.co.uk for the article

BetButler ceases trading

Remember BetBrokers back in 2008? A very familiar tale.

BetBrokers goes broke

The concept of a bet brokerage is nothing new - in Australia there have been numerous individuals over the years doing the same thing, we call them commission agents. Either for convenience (don't have the time or energy to chase best price), anonymity (celebrity) or barred by bookmakers (not so common a decade ago), they offer a service to place bets for people. Much easier to do with on-course bookmakers in Australia are they are compelled to take a bet, unlike the corporates. Anything outside of the mainstream though becomes very difficult as it's now beancounters rather than old school bookies willing to go head-to-head against the bigger punters.

Switch that business plan to the UK and you're done before you've even started. If it couldn't work for BetBrokers several years ago, it ain't gonna swim now. You have no chance of getting big money on regularly on racing unless you lose hand over fist. The market simply isn't that deep and bookies aren't interested in handling any decent money which might be informed, regularly beats starting price, or only ever takes top price. Given that modus operandi, horse racing is always going to be the prime attraction of a bet brokerage for a punter in need of such a service. Those wanting the service will be the ones wanting to take top price regularly, otherwise they'd be happy using the likes of Star Sports who will handle the big money, but without the gimmicky offers.

For football and cricket, if you stick to the main couple of markets, there will be plenty of outlets connecting you to the vast liquidity in Asia. Beyond that, even on those sports, you will struggle - a boutique operation with limited membership might be able to crack it but a business which tries to cater for large numbers of clients simply will not work.

Now I wonder when someone will ever sort out/shut down that mob of Irish cowboys, SportsSpreads?

Saturday, 30 August 2014

AFC North preview

More from the sharp mind of Ian Steven, @deevo82.

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AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers


The AFC North is where things begin to become salacious from a betting standpoint as the bookies are split over who tops this traditionally competitive division.

The Steelers are the favourites for the division with Big Ben Roethlisberger once more the face of the franchise. He is not conventional in his play and can throw some ugly looking passes but he has bags of grit and is definitely a playmaker. Roethlisberger will win a couple of games single-handedly if he is fit and he crucially plays well once the weather turns inclement.

There has been a strong tradition of running backs in Western Pennsylvania with names like Franco Harris, Barry Foster and Jerome Bettis tripping off the tongue. Since The Bus retired however, the Heinz Field franchise have struggled to find elite talent at the position and this year will try the tandem of Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount as the offense looks to cudgel their opponents into submission.

At wide receiver, Antonio Brown is quickly becoming one of the top ten players at his position and will definitely be the go to guy for Big Ben. Rookie speedster Dri Archer will be a man to watch both on special teams but also on gadget plays as well as Todd Haley looks to get the diminutive receiver in space to maximise his effectiveness.

The offensive line had traditionally been an area of weakness for the Steeltown franchise. David DeCastro and Maurkice Pouncey should provide a lot of interior punch but some questions at tackle could force Roethlisberger into more of his playmaking repertoire than he would like.

The defense was shredded by the Eagles in pre-season and they are not the elite force they used to be in years gone by. They could still be a top-ten D but rookie Ryan Shazier will come under a lot of pressure as opponents try to confuse the rookie who is starting at middle linebacker. The usual script with Pittsburgh is that if Troy Polamalu succumbs to injury, the defense falls apart so Dick LeBeau will have to cross his fingers that his blue chip veteran remains off the treatment table.

Cincinnati Bengals

I prophesised that the Bengals were primed to win the division last year and miraculously I was proved correct. There was a lot of unrest in the offseason with Cincy fans as QB Andy Dalton looked out of his depth in the Bengals playoff loss to San Diego with the quarterback throwing two interceptions and also losing a fumble. Dalton does play well in the regular season however – throwing for over 4,293 yards with a 33-20 TD-Int ratio in 2013.

Critics could argue that most QBs could throw for so many yards when AJ Green is the man catching the ball. If it were not for Megatron, Green would be the elite receiver in this league as he has everything, size, speed, hands and toughness. The problem for the Ohio franchise is that Green faces a lot of double coverage with a safety high or zones rotating his way but they don’t really have the talent in other areas of the field to expoit it. Tyler Eifert could be a player to watch for people looking for fantasy drafts as the second-year tight end has the athleticism to get behind linebackers in the seam and could be due for a breakout year.

Andre Smith and Andrew Whitworth are good bookends on an above average offensive line but the big grunts won’t be blocking for Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis who has just been released. Giovani Bernard should pick up most of the load in new offensive co-ordinator Hue Jackson’s offense at runningback.

The best bit of recent news for the Ohio faithful was the signing to an extension of Vontaze Burfict who could well be the best 4-3 strong side linebacker in the game. Burfict was not drafted due to character concerns but Mike Brown’s gamble has borne fruit.

The Bengals were the third stingiest in the NFL last season ranked with yards conceded per game and will rely heavily on their star tackle Geno Atkins to recover fully from last season’s torn ACL to anchor the defensive line.

Leon Hall and Dre Kirkpatrick are joined by rookie Darqueze Dennard in the secondary, supplementing the impressive spread of talent on the rest of the roster that make the Bengals the most complete team in the AFC North.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens were once famed for having the meanest defense in the NFL but times have changed and legends have migrated as the Hall of Fame elect duo of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed long gone from Maryland.

Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs are both perennial Pro Bow talents but are advancing in age. Alabama linebacker CJ Mosely was drafted by Ozzie Newsome to replace the legendary Lewis but Baltimore’s defence definitely looks porous and could give up a lot of yards in the air.

On offense, big-armed quarterback Jim Flacco is still under centre. The Delaware graduate threw for just under 4,000 yards in 2014 but his Int-TDs ratio was terrible and needs attention if the Ravens want to make the playoffs. The direction of a franchise revolves around how well a QB performs in the NFL and Flacco’s playoff form to take the Bengals to the title in February, 2013 will be forgotten of he keeps handing the ball to the opposition on a platter.

Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice courted controversy in the off-season for assaulting his wife in an elevator (or lift if you are from the UK)and received an NFL ban for the first two games of the season – which was a punishment that Commissioner Roger Goodell admitted he had got wrong after protests about the leniency. Bernard Pierce is more than capable of handling the load with Rice out and could snatch the starting sport as Rice was hardly electrifying last season.

Veteran Steve Smith absconded from the Carolina Panthers to join the Ravens in an odd move as Newsome likes to build via the draft and Smith has some questionable character traits that you would not want to influence young players. Owen Daniels was the other big name free agent signing and he should have a good tight end partnership with Dennis Pitta if he can remain healthy.

A weak secondary and an uninspiring offensive line who only have Marshall Yanda as an example of a top tier lineman will ultimately be the undoing of the Ravens in 2014 in an unforgiving division.

Cleveland Browns

Where do you start with the Browns? The most dysfunctional franchise in the NFL in recent years, it looked like the long suffering Dawg Pound had finally found their first franchise quarterback since Bernie Kosar in Brian Hoyer but the hapless signal caller tore his ACL against the Bills and was out for the season. As Hoyer fell then so did the Browns. A seven game losing skid to end the season saw Coach Rob Chudzinski and general manager Michael Lombardi fired with Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer brought in in an effort to right the ship.

The lure of Johnny Football was too much for the Browns front office and Farmer traded up to 22nd with the Eagles to pull the trigger on Manziel. A polarising figure, the Texas A&M QB has already been fined for a middle-finger salute in a pre-season game and has not wowed observes with his displays on the field. Hoyer remains the starter but it is just a matter of time before Manziel takes the field and either saves the franchise of plunges them back into another cycle of despair.

Just as Hoyer was providing hope, Josh Gordon was assailing the Cleveland faithful with out-and-out excellence, amassing 1,646 receiving yards in only 14 games and looking like the next big thing at receiver. Unfortunately, the bone-headed player was arrested for driving whilst impaired in North Carolina and has been suspended for the entire 2014 season for violating the NFL’s substance policy. Miles Austin, Andrew Hawkins and Nate Burleson will attempt to share the load with Gordon missing but it is the impressive tight end Jordan Cameron who will be the prime focus of Hoyer/Manziel and a good fantasy draft pick up.

Ben Tate should be able to carve out the yards at running back behind a good line that features Joe Thomas and Alex Mack in Kyle Shanahan’s zone-blocking run offense that Tate will be familiar with from his time in Houston.

The Browns actually had a top ten defense last season and added to their talent levels by bringing in Justin Gilbert in the draft at cornerback to partner Joe Haden in a solid unit. They will be a tough team to play against and will keep a lot of scores close by running the rock and using play action to move the ball down the field in small chunks – just don’t expect the spectacular plays that Josh Gordon delivered last season.

Verdict

If Cleveland get their act together and actually provide some stability at the quarterback position then the Browns might not finish last in the AFC North. The Steelers and Ravens have enough questions that one injury could derail either team’s season. The Bengals don’t really have a weak spot on their roster and should be consistent enough to win this division for the second year running. 4 pts at 3.2 with Boyle Sports.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Football Form Labs - weekend preview

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PREVIEW: Spurs v Liverpool (Sun, 13:30)

After an unsuccessful trip to the champions last week Liverpool’s title credentials will now be tested by an away match at the early leaders. Spurs have made a perfect start to the season under Mauricio Pochettino and now they face their first serious test having been thrashed in both meetings with Liverpool last term – losing 4-0 and 5-0.

12 months ago Spurs were being talked about as serious top four challengers having made several big money signings in the wake of Gareth Bale’s move to Madrid. However, the new players failed to make the desired impact and they were a fairly disjointed outfit most of the year. Now, some of those players are starting to show some promise while Liverpool are in their position of having sold their best player.

Spurs started to show an improvement at home in the second half of last season and have now won nine of their last 11 matches at White Hart Lane. In the past two seasons they’ve won eight of 18 home games against top-half finishers whilst losing just five times. 11 of these matches have had at least three goals while 12 have seen both teams score.

Liverpool’s failure to lift the title last season can in part be attributed to a defence that conceded 32 times on the road and they’ve started off in a similar vein having let in three at Man City last Monday. They’ve won only five of their 18 trips to top-half finishers in the past two seasons with seven of the matches finishing level. However, four of those five wins came last season when Luis Suarez was tearing defences apart. 15 of the 18 matches have had at least three goals as they’ve conceded at least twice on 13 occasions.

Without Suarez we struggle to see Liverpool maintaining the 2.45 goals per game they’ve scored on the road since the start of last season and Spurs look in a far better position coming into this match. Furthermore, they’ve won this fixture in four of the past five seasons and at 1.91 on the Draw No Bet represent great value.

Early signs this season suggest that there is no need for over-goals backers to abandon Liverpool and 31 of their last 35 matches have now had at least three goals. At 1.7 for Over 2.5 Goals there looks to be some value and much like last week we wouldn’t put anyone off backing Spurs to score Over 1.5 Goals at 2.1 or to win with both teams scoring at 5.0.

Please note we'd advise keeping stakes low in the early weeks of a campaign due to the unpredictable nature of this stage of the season.

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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

AFC East preview

Shrewd NFL punter/NFL tragic Ian Steven, @deevo82 returns to the blog with his divisional previews. First up, it's the AFC East....

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AFC East

New England Patriots

Let’s start with an easy one. The Patriots are the class of this division and have been since Moses did a David Copperfield at the Red Sea. The partnership of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick is one of the best combinations of quarterback/coach in NFL history. The Pats have never had a losing season since these two great planets aligned with the New England outfit making the playoffs in 10 out of 12 seasons which is ridiculous in a league imbued with the socialist ethics of parity.

Brady has enshrined himself in the conversation as one of the all-time greats but it is his supporting cast where the questions lie. The only other real superstar on offense is tight end Rob Gronkowski who is more brittle than a paper girder and cannot be relied upon to finish a season. His talent is unsurpassed but so is his medical bill. Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman make up a pint-sized receiving core with second year man Kenbrell Thompkins looking to make a big leap outside the hashes in his second year.

Belichick has favoured a running back by committee approach in recent seasons with Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden and Stevan Ridley all looking to gain some playing time. The offensive line are well coached and do not make many mistakes which is crucial if drives are to be maintained but veteran Logan Mankins has been traded to Tampa Bay as I type this which is a blow in terms of veteran leadership although Mankins is getting long in the tooth.
Defense is perhaps the biggest question for the Pats. Vince Wilfork missed most of last season with a torn Achilles tendon. The man mountain is the corner stone for the 3-4 defense and he was sorely missed last season.
The biggest move made in the off season was to add Darelle Revis into the secondary after the all-pro corner failed to mesh with Tampa Bay’s system of play. Revis can shut down half the field when he is healthy so look for Kyle Arrington to have a lot of balls thrown his way as the reputation of the former New York Jet alone is enough to make some QBs think twice.

Miami Dolphins
Just don’t mention Incognito! The Fish had their year ruined last season by a dramatic bullying soap opera which saw Jonathan Martin walk out on the club with Richie Incognito and Mike Pouncey the key instigators in a sustained campaign of abuse against the Stanford man. Martin has now joined former coach John Harbaugh at San Francisco, Incognito is a free agent and has been cleared to return to the NFL whilst Pouncey has a torn hip labrum and is on the PUP list.

It is credit to coach Joe Philben that the club managed to salvage seven wins last season as they could easily have imploded. Third year QB Ryan Tannenhill is expected to have a breakout year this season but it will be difficult with a brand new offensive line and some questionable talent at wide receiver. Mike Wallace was a major free agent disappointment compared to the size of contract he signed whilst Brandon Gibson and Brian Hartline, dependable as they are, are never going to threaten entry to Canton.

The good news for the Dolphins is that free agent pickup Knowshon Moreno has looked sharp in the pre-season and could well be in line for a 1,000 yard rushing season in Florida as the Fish will look to control the ball and the scoreboard, as they will struggle if they are forced to play catch up.

On defense – there has been a shift in philosophy from a 3-4 to a 4-3 which leaves last year’s top draft pick Dion Jordan stuck in a no man’s land. There were rumours that the Eagles were trying to trade for the outside linebacker but the Dolphins have elected to keep him as a defensive end in a position that he is not suited for.

Cameron Wake, Randy Starks and Jared Odrick provide solidity on the line beside Jordan for a defence that will be middle of the pack. The ultimate question – is the defense good enough to stop Brady? The answer is no and that is where Miami falls flat.

New York Jets
Geno Smith is the starter – apparently – with Mike Vick waiting on the sidelines, joining his former offensive co-ordinator from his time with the Eagles, Marty Morninwheg. Smith earned the starter spot last season when Mark Sanchez went down in pre-season with a shoulder injury but a severe lack of a supporting cast left the rookie QB floundering.

The Jets front office made a concerted effort in the close season to add some marquee talent and duly signed speedster running back Chris Johnson from Tennessee and one of Peyton Manning’s go to receivers from last year, Eric Decker. The New Jersey outfit will definitely look to use the run to set up the pass and Johnson should average about 25 touches a game behind a decent offensive line anchored by perennial pro-bowl centre, Nick Mangold.

Rex Ryan’s men had the best defense in their division last year and will be solid once more, especially against the run with Sheldon Richardson and Muhammed Wilkerson anchoring the defensive line. The Jets managed 41 sacks last season and will hope to up their output in that regard as they have a relatively young secondary. Calvin Pryor was their big name draft pick this year who has a hard-hitting reputation coming out of Louisville but he is raw and could be exposed early on in the season.

The Jets are definitely going to be a tough to team to play against but just don’t have enough sparkle to keep up with the Patriots.

Buffalo Bills
It seems like an eternity that the Bills have been woeful. Long gone are the heady days of the 1990s with Jim Kelly leading the New York State franchise into four Super Bowls. EJ Manual is the man behind centre now but the second-year quarterback has been very shaky in the pre-season and is not inspiring confidence in the Orchard Park faithful.

Hope is something much in demand as the death of owner Ralph Wilson has prompted fears that a buyer could come in and move the ball club to a new city with Los Angeles looking on expectantly much to the consternation of the Bills fans who are extremely loyal but they are a small town franchise and money talks in the NFL..

Manuel needs to play a lot better in the regular season if the Bills are to have any hope of returning to their glory days under Marv Levy. One glimmer of hope is the amount of talent in the backfield. Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller were already stellar pros but the arrival of Bryce Brown via trade from the Eagles really gives Buffalo a triumvate of talent.

The Bills also have a core of promising receivers. Second-year man Robert Woods has the makings of a good route runner with first round draft pick Sammy Watkins touted as the best receiver to come out of college since AJ Green, but Watkins is nursing some sore ribs that could stifle his effectiveness in the opening few games. Olympic long-jumper Marquise Goodwin also figures to get a lot of playing time in what is a very green set of receivers.

The offensive line received a massive makeover in the draft with Seantrel Henderson, Cyrus Kouandijo and Cyril Richardson all drafted although neither have breached the starting line-up yet, it is only a matter of time as last year’s rookie Cordy Glenn went straight into action at the demanding left tackle spot.

The Bills may well have the makings of a playoff team on offense in a couple of years’ time but they will struggle to knit together in 2014 in time to make a serious assault on the division.

The defense were dealt a massive blow as the impressive Kiki Alonso blew out his ACL as the young middle linebacker looked set to become one of the elite players at his position. Brandon Spikes has been brought into replace the former Oregon player, anchoring a defense that includes Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus.

Doug Marrone’s men are very weak in the secondary and could end up getting blown out in a couple of games, particularly against the Broncos and Packers. If Manuel turns out to be the player GM Doug Whaley thinks he can be – this could be a team to watch out for in 2015.

Verdict
The Patriots are going to win the AFC East yet again unless there is a disaster. Best odds of 1.36 not really worth the risk however.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Ebor Handicap preview

The Ebor
1m6f, York
preview by Chris Day, @chrisday100


Run over 14 furlongs at a searching pace on the last day of York’s Ebor meeting, the Ebor Handicap is doubtless one of the hardest races of the year to win, targeted by every trainer of a 90 plus staying handicapper in the land from the start of the season.

One who loves to win these big pots with well handicapped runners is Sir Mark Prescott and his Pallasator’s odds have done nothing but contract since he dished out a stylish beating to the subsequent Goodwood winner, Opera Buff, at Ascot at the end of July. Carrying a 4lb penalty for that excellent run cannot be considered punitive but the weights have risen, he’s now got joint top weight and the outside draw to contend with. Tough to beat, no doubt, but not as tempting as he may have been had the top weights stood their ground and he been drawn better.

The other joint top weight is Andrew Balding’s Whiplash Willie, who you could argue has an equal level of form in the book and has won three of his last five races but that does take in over three years. Presumably connections feel he’s worth persevering with and a Salisbury handicap win off a stone lower mark plus a Group 3 placing from two starts this season have vindicated their persistence. Still needs to improve to win this from 107, though.

Winning hurdler, Clever Cookie, is next in getting 5lbs from the top two and has been well backed this week but his form doesn’t appear strong enough in comparison and, at the prices, he’s overlooked for betting purposes although he clearly likes York and should run his race.

Gabrial comes here off a five month break since Meydan and possibly has other targets in mind but Mutual Regard could go well, his two length beating of Edge of Sanity being well advertised over 2 miles here on Wednesday. Connections have booked a good 5lbs claimer but he’s 11lbs higher than his last winning mark and has a difficult draw to overcome. Others appear better treated in comparison.

Bold Sniper, in common with so many of his trainer’s older handicappers, has been beaten favourite in his last 4 handicaps but should improve for the step up in trip and is one I can see going well at each way prices. Placings in the John Smith’s Cup here, Wolferton at Royal Ascot and big handicaps at Newmarket and Goodwood suggest he’s in the ball park and he should be coming home very well from his wide draw. Definite possibilities.

Repeater doesn’t appear reliable enough or well enough handicapped, Suegioo arguably needs further and is badly handicapped after his Chester Cup win and Nearly Caught is a stone higher than his last handicap victory, while Sir Walter Scott may have southern hemisphere targets later in the season and Aussie Reigns has shown nothing to suggest he has a race like this in him.

Great Hall may soon be winning but probably not in this, Elidor seems in the handicapper’s grip, Wadi Al Hattawi ran moderately at Ascot after an eye catching victory over two furlongs shorter here in May and could have more to give over the extra yardage, Van Percy won a Goodwood handicap noted as a trial for this but carries a penalty, Retirement Plan showed improvement for a step up to two miles at Ascot and Ted Veale is only 1lb higher than when fourth in last season’s renewal but has a good 7lb claimer on board. Whether a victory in a Galway chase is ideal preparation could be questioned but his trainer is one of the sharpest and you couldn’t rule this 7 year old out with any certainty.

Of the two reserves, Havana Cooler is much preferred to Glorious Protector but it’s selection time and I’m having three darts in this but only because I’ve backed my main fancy, Mighty Yar at 20-1 a few weeks ago, after seeing him just failing to concede 18lbs to King’s Fete over 12 furlongs of the Knavesmire in mid July. The performance was all the more meritorious given that he almost fell coming out of the stalls but stayed on takingly, looking like he was crying out for the Ebor distance. Not only has King’s Fete franked the form with an excellent Goodwood second despite a slightly injudicious ride, but the third, Whispering Warrior, won at Doncaster next time out, fifth Itlaaq won here on his next start and sixth home, Nicholascopernicus won from an 1lb lower mark at Windsor recently.

His Newmarket victory in May was possibly one of the hottest pieces of handicap form all season and he’s only 9lbs higher, which I believe renders him well in. The trainer won last year’s renewal and the stable have always known what it takes to win the great race. Creeping in off bottom weight and a nice low draw are the icing on the cake for a colt considered to be Group class at the start of the current campaign.

Dangers obviously abound and De Rigeur, from a stable mopping handicaps up with alacrity, actually beat the favourite last time at Haydock yet is 2lbs better in, has a good draw, a rider with a great record in big field York handicaps and winning form over 2 miles. What’s not to like? I have to admit to having taken some 16-1 each way on Wednesday but 12-1 is acceptable for a horse likely to be seeing the race out as well as any.

My final selection and a horse not seen for 77 days, Dare To Achieve, was second favourite when appearing not to handle Epsom last time but he’s only 3lbs higher than when making a winning reappearance at Hamilton and has always been highly thought of by big race York specialist, William Haggas. He hasn’t got the best draw but was favourite in his first five starts and could outrun quotes of 20-1 each way.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Toy Show Quality preview

Toy Show Quality Handicap
1300m for Fillies and Mares.
Group 3.


The race will be run at Randwick for the first time since 2009. Red Tracer in 2011 is the only favourite to have won in the last six years. With a deluge in Sydney over the last week the track is currently Heavy and with rain still around I am proceeding on the basis it stays that way. The rail is in the True position. I expect the ground will be best away from the fence and by Race 7 that bias could be more accentuated.

You can read more about myself Andrew Capelin and my markets for NSW racing at my website acmarkets.com.au or catch me on twitter @acmarkets. Enjoy the preview.

1 DIAMOND DRILLE Gai Waterhouse -Tommy Berry (2) 59
5yo mare who came of age last time taking out the Queen of the Turf (Group 1) at big odds. Unusually for the stable, she got better deeper into her preparation. First up here and has trialled twice again. Likes the wet. She will probably race midfield or worse near the fence which won’t be ideal. No doubt Gai will have her primed first up but I feel she has a bit against her and have assessed her longer than the current $6 quote.

2 DEAR DEMI Clarry Conners -Kerrin McEvoy (6) 58.5
5yo mare heading for the cups again I suppose. Not noted first up but last prep her first up run was her best. Has trialled twice again including a 1000m trial win at Hawkesbury. Handles the wet and races back in the field. $9 seems really short to me. I won’t be on.

3 LUCIA VALENTINA (NZ) Kris Lees -Hugh Bowman (13) 57
Boom NZ mare having 10th start. Won the Group 1 Vinery and started favourite in the Australian Oaks in the autumn. First up and given 2 soft trials at home. The draw is no problem. Will steam down the outside and be hard to hold out. I think she should be equal favourite and $6.50 looks overs to me.

4 GYPSY DIAMOND Peter & Paul Snowden -Blake Shinn (10) 56.5
Another good mare resuming. Now with the in form Snowden stable. 2 soft trials. Has a big sprint, loves Randwick and relishes the wet. She will settle back in the field. B Shinn is a big plus. She has a great chance but I can’t get her quite as short as the current $3.70 quote.

5 THUMP Kris Lees -Brenton Avdulla (11) 55.5
Good mare second up here. Last 2 second up runs for a win and placing in Group 2 Mares company. Took on the good horses last start and raced without cover. She gets a softer run here either leading or outside the lead. Her record at Randwick looks poor but this is the easiest race she has been in. Over the odds at $12 and will be in my staking plan.

6 BENNETTA Grahame Begg -Jeff Lloyd (5) 55
Comes into this off a 49 day break with one trial. Races back in the field and has never been as effective on wet ground. Has some residual fitness having competed in lesser mares races in the Brisbane winter but I’m thinking J Lloyd gets lost on her. $12 seems too short.

7 NEENA ROCK SCRATCHED (14) 54

8 INTIMATE MOMENT (NZ) Ron Quinton -Sam Clipperton 1 54
Much improved mare with a very short sharp sprint. She rose from Benchmark races last preparation to win at Group 3 level thanks to a brilliant Clipperton ride. Her best form is over longer and she wasn’t able to win provincial maidens in 3 previous first up runs. I don’t like her map position either. Current quote $13

9 KRISTY LEE Chris Waller -Tim Clark 7 54
Get back mare with poor racing manners who normally races in Benchmark company. Just back from Melbourne for this. She has too many chinks and I want to risk her.

10 ANGEL BEE (NZ) Team Hawkes -Taylor Marshall (a) 3 54
5yo Pins mare who comes here 3rd up and with the right trainer. Races on the pace and I can see her being stuck in the worst ground near the fence. I feel she will be found out in the last 100.

11 GOLD EPONA Kris Lees -Ms Kathy O'Hara 15 54
Another Benchmark mare stepping up in class. She loves the wet but will get a long way back and only has a recent win on the Kensington track to rely on. I prefer other roughies.

12 MISS PROMISCUITY Anthony Cummings -Jason Collett 9 54
Lightly raced 4yo mare who has been set for this 3rd up. She started favourite in the lead up at Rosehill 14 days ago and has two good ratings in Melbourne mares events. She settles handy but well off the fence from gate 9 and J Collett will find the best ground in the straight. I think she starts shorter than her current quote of $9 and will be at least saving on her.

13 MY SABEEL (NZ) Kevin Moses -Glyn Schofield 8 54
A much improved and very consistent mare who has risen from the midweeks to this. She will race on the pace and comes back to 1300 on a 7 day backup. If there is a boilover she could be the one. I have assessed her at half her $51 quote.

14 SUCH A PRINCESS Kerry Parker -Ms Winona Costin (a) 4 54
Provincial mare who arrives here first up with no trial. She can race handy but is severely outclassed here.

15e LESLEY’S CHOICE David Vandyke 12 54
J McDonald might go aboard here after the scratching and although promising and used to racing on the speed, he might have to pick her up and carry her the last 100 metres. She appears outclassed.

Summary: An intriguing pipe opener for the good mares coming back for the spring taking on some improved race fit types. It’s hard to ignore the class of the kiwi mare LUCIA VALENTINA and although she won’t be near her best she might have a bit on them.

Selections:

1. LUCIA VALENTINA
2. THUMP
3. GYPSY DIAMOND
4. MY SABEEL

Warwick Stakes preview

WARWICK STAKES 1400m, Group 2 WFA
RANDWICK
Preview by @PremiumPunting
www.premiumpunting.com.au

Expect the speed to be quite sluggish. Five of the 10 in the field are returning from a spell and, most importantly, are targetting races deeper into their campaign – so they will not go at a good speed or imply pressure on the front runners as their physical condition won’t allow them to.
This is crucial to the likely outcome of the race.



TIGER TEES
Ran as well as could be expected of him. He is a super 1st up horse and again proved that when winning G3 1200m up the Flemington straight. Lugged 59.5KGs and ran in an OK time. He has at times been over ridden when second up and his gas has bunt prior to the turn. He is going to have a relatively easy time leading this, but he will need to rising to 1400m second-up. That is his only knock, but provided they let him be up front, he will give a powerful kick alongside Messene.

MESSENE
Excellent return from his spell. Did have favours being camped in the box seat just behind the leader Sweet Idea who was the eventual winner. The positives however are that he, despite doing his best, didn’t put in too hard that could cause his collapse 2nd up. He is a horse who seemingly improves with running under his belt. Eliminate his failure on the wet ground in the Doncaster Mile, he had to endure a mighty hard run facing the breeze. Maps terrifically once again here and if the backmarkers leave it all too late, he might be too tough to run over.

WEARY
He was very good in the Coolmore losing to Messene. Had reasons to not run as well as he did – the good surface, 1200m and being 1st up yet he was capable of reeling off the second fastest F200m behind stable-mate Boban. We have only seen him second up once in Australia and that was last campaign, on good ground when he lost to Messene. He has drawn well to ensure he is close enough to react to the leaders shall they slip away. Ran second in the G1 Doncaster Mile over at this track and distance at the run prior to his spell. Capable of recapturing most of that level, which is good enough to win.

ROYAL DESCENT
Is going to have admirers due to being a ‘swimmer’. Her peak performance ratings are so far superior on wet ground to that of her dry runs. She is a brilliant mare and will win a very big race throughout her career; it may well be in this campaign. I doubt that her underdone fitness plays that great of a role in her winning chances as she has the turn of speed to quickly gobble up anything in front. 1400m is better suited for her than the 1300m she resumed in last campaign. If she can park just off midfield and make a move turning, she has the closing sectional ability to blouse them.

The market shown is set to 100%, eliminating horses priced over $21.

RECOMMENDED BETS
At this stage, our market is far too similar to the public’s to be betting anything and in such instances, we are quick to by-pass the race from a betting point of view.

But, of course, things can change so keep in close contact with the public’s offerings in case overlays present.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Nunthorpe preview

Nunthorpe Stakes
5f G1 York

by Adam Webb, @adamwebb121


The Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes is Friday’s main event on the third day of York’s Ebor meeting which has had a reputation of throwing up some unexpected results including twelve months ago when the ill-fated Jwala won at odds of 33/1 and this year’s favourite Sole Power who won back in 2010 when a three year old at the almost unbelievable odds of 100/1.

The best place to start is with Edward Lynam’s sprinter who has looked better than ever on his last two starts with victories in the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket and in the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot under the coolest of rides from Richard Hughes who keeps the ride here. He is definitely worth his place at the head of the market however the vibes from his trainer seem to suggest he isn’t in as good form as he was earlier in the season plus the threat of rain at York is enough to put me off. His old rival Shea Shea re-opposes and must bounce back from his disappointing run at Royal Ascot where he wasn’t 100%. He was second in this contest a year ago with Sole Power right behind him in third. If he bounces back, it would be no surprise to see him hit the frame but he is a watching brief tomorrow.

The three year old challenge is headed by Hot Streak and Cougar Mountain who both contested the July Cup last time out. The former was disappointing but before then looked a sprinter of the highest quality, especially when showing a high cruising speed on soft ground in the Temple Stakes at Haydock when beating the same owner’s Pearl Secret. This effort was in-between two third placed efforts behind Sole Power at Newmarket and Ascot. There is no secret how much Kevin Ryan rates this horse and any rain that arrives at the Knavesmire will be welcome. The latter ran a superb race in defeat when fifth behind Slade Power considering it was only his second start after a cosy maiden success at Naas in June. The main concern tomorrow is whether five furlongs will actually suit with both previous efforts over six furlongs but whatever the result he will learn plenty from the experience and is definitely one to keep on the right side of.

The King George Stakes at Goodwood has been used in the past as a stepping stone towards the Nunthorpe with the likes of Lochsong in 1993 and Ortensia in 2012 both winning that race before coming on to win at York. The first five home from this year’s contest all reoppose here plus Monsieur Joe who was thirteenth. The winner of this year’s Take Cover has been a revelation this season. He returned in the King's Stand where he travelled really well until a lack of fitness told late on. Since then he won a Listed contest over course and distance before stepping up to Group Two level at Goodwood to record his biggest career success. He looks a solid bet in the race with him being in the form of his life plus the ground won’t be an issue for him and with James Doyle booked, he looks primed to run a huge race.

Last year’s Windsor Castle winner Extortionist could be described as an unlucky loser that day when not getting the best of rides from Ryan Moore but before that had looked a nice improver after disappointing on his first two starts this year when winning a handicap off 100 at Newmarket before being placed behind Fountain Of Youth at the Curragh. He then showed how tough he is when winning a Group Three at Sandown with that being the fourth Saturday on the bounce that he had raced. He looks overpriced especially with how close he was to Take Cover last time out. The third Moviesta ran his best race since winning the same race twelve months ago and isn’t trusted to repeat that form.

Stepper Point is another from the same race who was unlucky as he raced alone on the nearside rail and did well to finish as close as he did in fourth. He ran a career best when second to Sole Power in the King’s Stand and his trainer William Muir fancies him to run well however the main worry for him is that he’s drawn two around hold up horses and away from the pace.

G Force ran well enough at Goodwood but will need more required here to feature.

Rangali is a fascinating contender coming over from France. He beat the well-regarded Cat Call last time out at Chantilly in convincing style with Stepper Point held back in fourth. Rain would be welcome however the surface at Chantilly was the fastest he had ever encountered. He’s had a break since Chantilly and it wouldn’t be a major shock to see him in the frame.

Pearl Secret is one that will appreciate plenty of rain but looks a horse that wants six furlongs opposed to five so a race like the Sprint Cup at Haydock could be his with likely softer conditions with the news Slade Power is likely to miss it and head straight to Australia.

Steps is another who has improved this season but cannot throw away his chances at the start like he did in the Epsom Dash and last time out at Sandown in the Coral Charge plus he is drawn one which is another negative to his chances. Astaire ran well over six furlongs at the Dante meeting behind Maarek in a really confusing Duke of York Stakes in which the field finished stretched out across Yorkshire. He has since disappointed twice and looks hard to recommend whilst Monsieur Joe and dual winner in 2008 and 2009 Borderlescott both look seriously outclassed.

Conclusion
With concerns about Sole Power and having to forgive bad runs from both Shea Shea and Hot Streak last time out, TAKE COVER is taken to achieve a Group One victory as he is currently in the form of his life with Extortionist and Rangali to chase him home.

1: Take Cover
2: Extortionist
3: Rangali

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Clipper Logistics Handicap preview

Returning after tipping up Blaine to win the Festival opener at double figure odds, it's @chrisday100....

Clipper Logistics Handicap
15.05 York Class 2


For many, myself included, the real betting races of the Ebor meeting are the handicaps. A winner in one of these can pay for a nice half term break with the kids in October or a trip to the Arc.

The Clipper Logistics Handicap at 3.05 on Thursday is such a contest with the race being analysed by many with a view to finding the Cambridgeshire in early October.

A win prize of almost £50000 ensures that entrants will be taking Thursday’s race seriously though and you can bet there’ll be at least 6 fighting it out at the furlong marker, meaning you’ll need a few pounds in hand to land it.

In predicted order of SP, Sir Michael Stoute fields favourite Russian Realm, who was made favourite for the Royal Hunt Cup, a race I’m sure he’d have gone very well in after scooting up at Goodwood in May but inexplicably he went for the wrong race, opting to try seven furlongs instead. He had a bad draw then and the same at Sandown last time when shaping as if still in form and must go well. The trouble with him, like so many of his trainer’s older handicappers, is his price and he’s passed over for that reason. My feeling is also that 10 furlongs will suit him even better.

Parbold, from a stable who love to have winners here, was second in last year’s Coventry before going off 4-1 off a 6lbs higher mark than Thursday’s in the Free Handicap at Newmarket since when his form has seemed to stall but 105 is a winnable mark and the weight for age allowance makes him look attractively weighted. Price the only snag again so we’ll look elsewhere.

Third in the betting is Short Squeeze, who looked a horse to follow when dotting up at this meeting off 82 last season but now 20lbs higher and not really shaping as if coming to form. In a stable tour the trainer stated that he needs to settle in front to show his best, a tactic likely to be hard to achieve from stall 18 but, if he does manage it, an in running play after a couple of furlongs could pay dividends.

Top Notch Tonto could be a handicap blot off 108 with a 7lb claimer on board on his 2nd in last year’s QE11 but he’s not looked the same horse this season and 10-1 for an out of form horse who could run well is too short for me.

Gabrial’s Kaka was second on his only run at the track and won the Spring Cup at Newbury in April which he followed up with a creditable 2nd in a big Haydock handicap. He clearly enjoys flat left handed tracks and has a solid chance from just a 2lbs higher mark.

Laffan has surprisingly never run at York but is 7lbs higher than winning a less competitive event at Newcastle last time out and would have to be better than ever to win this and Boom And Bust is reasonably handicapped but 7 years old and unlikely to have the necessary improvement in him at this stage.

Ed Dunlop’s Red Avenger did me a favour at Goodwood last time and must go well off just a 3lbs higher mark, his earlier Epsom 3rd being extremely solid handicap form but I just wonder if he’ll need a stiffer test at the trip and not many win two big ones in a row.

Kieren Fallon has been booked to ride Navajo Chief, a horse with a three from eight record at the track and likely to go well with Fallon’s judgement of pace on the round track such an asset at York.

Anyway, down to selections and, as the going is unknown at this stage, I’m going to take two against the field.

If the ground turns soft, John Quinn’s Levitate is arguably thrown in, back on the same mark as when taking a Doncaster handicap last November. To illustrate the point, Laffan reopposes on the same terms yet was over five lengths back on that occasion . He’s had a break since running down the field on ground far too quick at Ascot and won last year’s Lincoln after a 182 day break so fitness shouldn’t be an issue. He’s forecast at over 25-1 and that looks an attractive each way play.

On faster ground, a horse who’s done me a couple of favours, Prince Of Johanne, looks primed to run well off a mark just slightly higher than his Royal Hunt Cup and Sandown victories from the last couple of seasons. He’s finished second and third in the mile handicap at the May meeting here for the last two seasons and, if they go too quick here, nothing will be staying on better and he’s forecast at odds over 20-1 again which makes solid each way sense.

Both are drawn to be able to get a tow into the race with enough cover to unleash a finishing kick in the last furlong and should give us a run for our money once ground conditions become apparent.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Juddmonte International preview

Juddmonte International
Group 1, 10.5f, York
by Jon da Silva, @creamontop

This is a level weights race supposedly but weight is the starting point here.

Weight for Age (WFA) will mean Australia gets 8 pounds off the older fellas. However that is less than he would have got last month - WFA will mean that he is expected to keep improving and when RPR has him 2nd top rated that assumes he has made several pounds of improvement since Epsom where his rating comes from. Of course he could have made more or less. There is talk of getting rid of WFA but what do we then do have a separate program for three year olds? Make the Voltigeur a Group 1 and make this race if it happened this year a match between Mukhadram and Telescope? WFA not ideal but neither are the alternatives.

Also listed in weighty matters Joseph O'Brien has to get down to his lowest weight of the year at 8st12. Now that might seem only a pound below his lowest weight this last year but given the height of him at ~6ft it's hard. In addition as anyone who witnessed his brutal stick handling on Magician on Saturday will know he has flown across the pond and back. Tough breed jockeys.

Each of JO'B's big rides tend to end up as a referendum on his ability with no shade of grey tolerated - the most routine win or marginal mistake the difference between ride of the year and worst rider ever. Personally I don't mind him on a horse I back.

One angle I won't explore is what would happen with a late downpour given the top three in the market are all better on top of the ground by most estimations. Indeed not sure who it would favour but a lay of top two on genuinely soft may not be wrong but it would all be guesswork.

The Old Boys

Telescope
Nearly as hyped as Australia before finding his pitch with a demolition of the Hardwicke field. Turned for home swinging in the King George and fought Mukhadram all the way to the wire in what would have been a great contest had Taghrooda not pissed all over both of them. Two best races at Ascot, rest of form not so good.

Mukhadram
A course and distance winner in a Group 2 who broke through at the top level with a win in the Eclipse beating the Derby second and lots of hype. Handled 12 furlongs OK at Ascot and even fought back against Telescope. Given his love of Sandown and his win from fellow long straight horse Grandeur over course and distance plus likely nice trip as pacemaker or stalker in a small field figures to be a key figure here.

The Sophomores

ARod
Named after a game but limited tennis player or a drug-taking cheat of a baseball player or maybe something totally different altogether. Second in the Dante to The Grey Gatsby and eight wickets behind Australia in the Derby.

The Grey Gatsby
Won the course and distance Dante from ARod and True Story meaning we could have yardsticker handicapper's heaven here if we wanted to as True Story was behind Mukhadram in the Eclipse and ARod well beaten by Australia but all confused because the Derby second was just in front of True Story at Sandown and True Story has run like a yak since then. The Grey Gatsby went on to be a facile winner of the French Derby over this distance before flopping in the bottomless in the Grand Prix de Paris. Look through the beaten horses he does not appear quite good enough to me. Hence ditto ARod.

Kingfisher
Grossly flattered in the Irish Derby and his 15L crushing at Epsom surely screams pacemaker here.

The Horse Who Would Be King

Australia
Named after a land down under where women glow and men chunder so will we hear the thunder? On form he is the best middle distance three year old male and in the Guineas showed plenty of pace. There is the famous quote of him pulling four straight 11 second furlongs but quite whether that was 11.0 11.2 11.4 11.5 Aiden O'Brien never said. AOB also has said that a horse who ran a month ago and is trained by one of the greats might not be fit. I'd put the former comment down to a trainer talking up his horse and the latter a trainer getting his excuses in. Against the same two older horses can he match Taghrooda and dismiss the old boys.

Conclusion

On the book one can not definitively say Australia is the best horse in this race coming in with same Official Rating as Telescope and 1 behind on RPR. We can probably all agree if there is a 135+ superstar in this race it is him but ceiling is only a hope until fulfilled. As pointed out his rating has been achieved in 3yo only races and presumes normal improvement. I think he should be fav and we should heed AOB's bullishness but at 4/6 not for me. The Grey Gatsby may be under rated but I just can't make his form add up to Australia's of the three-year-olds but this is his distance clearly.

Which leaves the older horses who we know will likely run to 120+ and are the same horse based on the King George. The long straight, more top class form and maybe a tactical advantage make me favour Mukhadram at the prices. A Mukhadram Grey Gatsby forecast might be worth it too.

Mukhadram 5/1 or better

Monday, 18 August 2014

Symphony Group Handicap preview - Ebor Festival Day 1

Symphony Group Handicap
by Chris Day, @chrisday100

Volunteering to preview the opening race of this year’s Ebor Festival, the 5f 89 yards (Ed. - why not a standard distance so times are relevant and comparable ffs?!?!) Symphony Group Handicap, when I could have chosen the smaller fields of the International or Great Voltigeur, probably says more about my own form this flat season.

A visit to the last chance saloon or just the kick up the backside I need to get back to making some extra income at the sport I love?

York, especially over sprint distances, is a specialists’ track and often the previous year’s race can have a major bearing on the outcome.

Interestingly, Kevin Ryan, who has such a great record at this meeting and with sprinters in general, won last year’s contest with Bogart, now 14lbs better off with the paper favourite, Goldream having beaten him ¾ length but his form since has been dire (10th his best effort since) and he’s passed over for that reason.

Goldream also likes York, his three appearances yielding 2nds off marks of 90, 91 and 96 and, now 103, he’s short enough whilst acknowledging his trainer is a master with sprinters. He beat Move In Time a head at Ascot last time and that one has also been well found in the market despite never excelling in three runs at the track.

Robot Boy has won twice this season off 87 and 92 but now finds himself off 102. His trainer always rated him and knows a good horse but his predicted odds are short enough considering his current rating. He too has run below expectations on his only two visits to the track.

An old favourite of mine, Mass Rally will surely go well in something this Autumn as his rating comes down and the ground softens and the Ayr Gold Cup, or more likely the Coral Sprint Trophy at this track could offer better options over further. He’s passed over here but is a talented horse who they just can’t go quick enough for.

See The Sun won a very hot three-year-old sprint over six furlongs in June here and is unlikely to be found wanting for pace. Like so many of these he’s difficult to discount but I’ll let him run at forecast odds, Ashpan Sam could be high enough in the weights having run really well here in May then won in facile fashion at Epsom and Monsieur Joe is only 3lbs higher than when winning that race.

Another who loves the Knavesmire is Secret Witness, off the same mark as when a neck and nose third to Top Boy over course and distance earlier in the season and likely to go close if getting the breaks.

However, we have to pick one and the selection here is Blaine, a former Gimcrack winner whose form over the course reads 113, his third over six furlongs here in May reading very well in the light of the second, Baccarat going on to win the Wokingham next time out. He was with that horse at the furlong marker before being run out of it close home. Two runs ago, he beat Tatlisu and Out Do, third and first respectively in Saturday’s Great St Wilfrid Handicap at Ripon before running no sort of race at Goodwood last time out. At Hamilton he didn’t look short of pace on good to firm ground where he led two out and stayed on from what we now know were two very well-treated rivals.

In short, he’ll love the track, could improve for the drop to the minimum distance, has won at the meeting as a two-year-old and is highly likely to have been primed by a trainer who targets this meeting.
Quotes of around 16-1 each way offer some value to get the meeting off to a flying start.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

previews for the Ebor Festival

Back after a short break, time to resume normal service. It's the historic Ebor Festival at York this week, and delighted to say I'll finally be attending for the first time! If anyone fancies their hand at writing a preview for any of the feature races during the week, please drop me a line - via the comments, by the email address on the right or on Twitter.

I can't pay you but am happy to plug your blog/website/service in return. Use it as an opportunity to do the form a bit deeper, or to be seen by a wider audience if you are keen to become a writer.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Racing NSW and the punter's right to a decent bet

The big news is betting circles lately is the Racing NSW decision to force all wagering organisations licensed to bet on NSW racing to lay a decent bet! This is to be enforced via the racefields legislation which allows the governing body of NSW Racing to control who bets on their product. The debate has gotten louder over recent years as traditional bookmaking has gone out the window, replaced by European corporate beancounters who only want to lay bets to people who lose money hand over fist, aka mugs.

RacingNSW set new minimum bet guidelines for corporate bookmakers from September 1

AUSTRALIA’S biggest corporate bookmakers will be made to stand to lose a minimum of $2000 in a single wager on a NSW metropolitan thoroughbred race, RacingNSW has announced.

In response to claims corporate bookmakers are refusing to accept bets from successful punters, RacingNSW will impose a minimum bet limit from September 1.

Wagering operators with turnover of more than $5 million will have to bet a punter to lose $2000 at a city meeting and $1000 at provincial and country fixtures.

Bookmakers with less than $5 million turnover will have to bet their customers to lose $1000 on all thoroughbred meetings.

....

Under the terms of the minimum bet guidelines, wagering operators will not be able to close a punter’s betting account, refuse to accept a new account or restrict a punter to avoid complying with the new rules.

“All punters should be able to place a legitimate bet on NSW thoroughbred races and should not be discriminated against by having their accounts closed or bets refused simply because they are successful,” V’landys said.



The Australian betting industry operates differently to envious nations abroad - the racing industry holds the power. All bookmakers are licensed by government departments which are responsible for racing and wagering - it's in the name of the minister's portfolio, just slightly different from state to state. Racing holds no such power in the UK, in fact it failed in the European Court a decade ago when it tried to charge for its data.

On-course bookmakers in Australia have always been forced to lay a bet to any individual to lose X, an amount which varies by the strength of the meeting and their position in the ring. As the industry evolved and telephone bookmakers started up in lower-tax jurisdictions such as the Northern Territory, corporate bookmakers were never bound by such restrictions. The NT Govt tried to enforce one but bookies just found ways around it, by removing certain product types for winning clients or simply closing accounts. When punters pushed for the NT Dept of Gaming and Racing to have some balls and stick up for punters, after all, they are there to protect the rights of punters, the corporate bookies lobbied against it and quelle surprise, the paper-shufflers caved in and dropped the rule altogether.

Racing NSW supremo Peter V'Landys, whom I have previously criticised heavily, has to be admired for his stance here. The rules seem fair - at $2000, the risk amount on a single bet to anyone is less than a 'rails' bookmaker has to stand on raceday. The restrictions only apply from 9am on raceday (2pm for night meetings), not to early trading - and in Australia with the brilliant system of 72hr decs, markets go up as early as Wednesday afternoon for the major Aussie raceday of Saturday - which will allow bookmakers to let punters hammer the market into place before they are compelled to lay the larger wagers. (Note that on-course bookies are only subject to these rules once they open their market - usually 30mins before a race). A bookmaker cannot close/refuse an account from anyone unless they have a criminal record (doubt that would stop them unless it was an integrity risk) or they were a 'bowler' - someone betting for another to hide their identity. Why they chose $2000 is interesting - bookies pitched lower, the punters' lobby group pitched lower, while the racecourse 'rails' bookie must bet to $5000. Was V'Landys gunning for higher turnover or trying to find a level which would annoy the corporate bookies but not enough to bring in the lawyers? Hat tip to Racetrack Ralphy for that last hypothesis.

Bookies will moan this is too hard, the industry is different now etc... They're right. It is different. But they made it different. They spent mega-millions on advertising to bring in the mugs, tempting them with the dream of actually winning a few bets while discriminating against those who actually had the discipline to carry it out. A bookmakers licence is a privilege not a right and the enforcement that all customers must be served to at least a minimum level of service is fair and just. Modern technology is fast enough and complex enough to deal with this. One Australian firm specialising in 'Best Tote' business has a laying off system which allows big bets to be split up across the various state totes to flatten out any pool anomalies, up to the final seconds before a race. The customer management system of factoring up punters on some sports where they bet recreationally and down where they win (or don't lose enough) consistently is highly advanced. They can deal with this, but they were never going to do it willingly. My major argument in their favour is the lack of consultation and notice - if this was a government policy being changed, affected bodies would have 6-12 months or more to prepare for it. A racecourse bookie only needs to deal with a handful of punters asking for the same price at once, the online bookie could have dozens.

As in any political fight, there has been some utter drivel churned out in response to this announcement. The Australian Wagering Council has been formed to represent the corporate bookmakers of Australia, and produced this gemstone of gibberish. Click on the link if you can stomach the lot...

AWC CALLS FOR FREEZE ON MINIMUM BET RULE PROPOSAL

'there have been frequent and persistent complaints by punters about online wagering operators refusing to take their bets. These complaints appear to be driven by professional punters who are looking after their own business interests...'

1. It's a hell of a lot more than pros, it's most people who consider themselves remotely advanced in their wagering.

2. Looking after business interests.... pot, kettle....

3. Delays in bet acceptance? How about, stop hiring bean counters and screen watchers, and go back to the proper bookmaking ways of hiring expert compilers and risk managers. Big change in bookmaking in recent years is automating everything and sacking most of the expertise.

'the implementation of a minimum bet rule on a state-by-state or code-by-code basis will result in regulatory uncertainty...'

Why? Anything that speeds up consistency across states and improves transparency is a positive step for the industry.

'Practical complexities of compliance and enforcement may also prove difficult for state (racing) authorities...'

Man has walked on the Moon, Australia won the America's Cup - nothing worthwhile is easy. The NT Racing & Gaming Dept are a lazy bunch who want to sponge off other states for the tax revenue but do very little to protect them. The ACT equivalent allowed the SportsAlive fiasco to occur under their watch when it was well known they'd had cash flow issues for over two years. They can't just take the cash and not be expected to work for it. And this further highlights the need for national regulation for both racing and wagering.

'on-course bookmakers are effectively servicing customers of the race club..'

Maybe 20 yrs ago, vast majority of their business now is via phones & other technology, so this point is no longer valid.

'online wagering operators who are servicing their own customers and are entitled to manage risk as they see fit'

They are licensed to conduct business under the terms of the regulator, and also the owner of any product they are licensed to wager on (eg AFL restricting certain bet types, Betfair not being permitted to operate in-running betting on Australian jumps races or protests & photo finishes - very different to the UK). If those regulations change, then they have to abide by them, so all that needs to happen here is that the regulator recognises the demands of the governing body.

Every person betting on racing is a customer of racing, directly or indirectly. If a bookie shafts a punter on racing, that has a flow-on effect. There are so many other form of gambling entertainment these days - sport, casinos, pokies/FOBTs - that it is crucial racing has a say here.

'Leakage of customers to illegal and unregulated offshore providers'

That old chestnut. Smaller now than ever before, yet they wheel it out to support a lame argument and make the uneducated think it's actually a factor.

For debate:

Do Racing NSW really have the power to do this? It's one thing controlling the intellectual property, but controlling how operates conduct their business once they have paid for that data is a step further and one which will no doubt make a bunch of rich lawyers even richer. Australian state law is a bloody mess, and should all be scrapped, it's not all as simple as whatever Sydney thinks can happen.

The link with Commonwealth Anti Money Laundering/Counter Terrorism Financing legislation isn't that ridiculous - Bronwyn Bishop famously accused Betfair of laundering money for al-Qaeda under the protection of speaking in the Senate, and the biggest piece of legislation which shut down most US-facing Caribbean bookmakers was a backhanded measure attached to this type of legislation.

That said, it hasn't been a problem for corporate bookmakers to accept $100k+ bets when it suits their PR machine, so where there's a will there's a way. Allowing punters to win $3k at any time isn't going to affect this unless the govt drops the threshold much lower (last I heard it was $10k, may have changed in recent years)

Racing NSW shouldn't have the power to force firms to deal with customers they don't like - that's the responsibility of government regulators who should have some balls, rather than just being taxpayer-funded papershufflers.

Concern about 'bowlers' - they've operated since betting was invented and a big chunk of wagering comes via commission agents like Steve Fletcher, Neville Clements etc. The bookie rarely knows who is behind them and it's not an issue....

Risks to the integrity of the event - valid but another chestnut. How many truly rigged races are there? Do the bookies report every race they flag up as a boat race? NSW Harness Racing would never get anything done if every suspicious race was reported by corporate bookies!

Account closures should be allowed - but only in cases of corruption (authorities often want these accts kept open to monitor their activity), problem gambling or staff abuse. And for these cases, there should be proper paperwork and an appeals process available.

WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

If V'Landys pulls this off - it begins September 1 and most of the loopholes seem to have been addressed - then I must put my hands up and bow to him. Racing's view that since wagering firms generate the lion's share of funding for the industry and also provide the avenue to get involved for the vast majority (there are only so many owners, jockeys, trainers, stablehands etc. but many times more punters) then it is bad for the industry if those firms controlling those pathways to enjoying racing restrict them simply because they like racing so much, they invest time into form study and the discipline to win more often than most.

Other states will no doubt follow suit in some form. Racing Victoria have discussed it, but their approach is to consult with their wagering partners rather than rule with an iron fist. There is no doubt that V'Landys has an increase in turnover in his sights, which in turn will drive greater returns to Racing NSW through the racefields turnover fee. He has never shown any regard for punters at all; 'punters are not price sensitive', 'a reduction in tote takeout would benefit nobody except a few professionals', turning a great betting ring into an afterthought at the new Randwick; so to claim this new policy is solely for the benefit of Australian punters is a bit rich. Racing Victoria is said to be looking at a pricing model to incentivise corporate bookmakers to service the sharper/higher-staking punters without hammering them on solely a turnover model which gets very costly once low margin, high staking, winning punters are guaranteed service.

Will Queensland follow suit? The Sunshine State has been home of the betting ring rort since Bernborough was a foal. Bookies forcing prices out for the official fluctuations and then hammering off-course/interstate outlets betting on those live or SP prices. If it was the financial industry, most of them would have been locked up for market manipulation. So would the racing authorities in Qld follow suit? Initially I thought not as they've not done anything to ruffle feathers with local bookies in decades, but this doesn't affect the on-course layer at all (already bound to bet to lose at least that much), it only hurts the corporates so it's a no-brainer.

In the RNSW legislation, there is nothing to force a bookie to bet the same punter twice. So if they back a horse to win two bags of sand at 10/1, they have the right to refuse the punter who comes back again (either to win more or if trying to push the odds down) at that price or a lower one. That's fair enough.

There is also no compulsion for the online bookmaker to offer the same set of prices, as highlighted by Shane Anderson on Racing Ahead. So instead of having your account factored (industry term for setting a customer to half/third/quarter/tenth stakes of the standard customer. Rich mugs might go the other way 2x, 5x etc.), if you're sharp they can put you onto a different price feed, no doubt with fatter margins.

Bookmakers have one month to prepare for it. My guess is on day one, they'll go into damage control mode and add a few % points to the market to create a buffer zone. But, that can create a false economy where they only lay the one horse at the 'right' price rather than several which would create the healthy book they aspire to. If they are smart, they'll start doing it quietly over the next few weeks to test the water.