When it comes to sports betting, choosing the right bookie is crucial to enhance your overall experience and have a good time. With so many…
I’ve written in the past about the affordability checks and their effects on the racing industry, almost certainly based on the evidence seen in recent months, likely to have a detrimental effect on the sport in the short and medium term.
Whether the great game is around long enough after that to experience a miraculous long term boom is another matter but one thing that is almost certain is that the sport cannot continue without the support of owners.
A lot has been said in the past about owners leaving the sport due to poor prize money, as has been pointed out previously racehorse ownership isn’t conscription, you’re not obliged to spend 50k on a yearling, 35k on a store horse or 90k on a point-to-point winner as rough examples.
However it’s becoming increasingly clear that something that has been taken for granted of late is the ability for pretty much anyone over the age of 18, including owners to have a bet.
The importance of prize money has been discussed at length elsewhere and others have been quick to point out the reduction in the total number of owners in the UK due to prize money levels not keeping up with inflation and the costs of having a horse in training.
While we’ve seen owners and the odd trainer cite the prize money levels as a reason to move abroad (owners mostly to Ireland and trainers to France) it’s rare that we see owners leave the sport completely.
With the excellent coverage of overseas racing provided by both the UK and Irish bookmakers and the Tote, owners in those jurisdictions haven’t really lost out in terms of getting a bet on.
Yes, bookmakers are less likely to want to lay the chunky bets on the 2:10 at Longchamp or 3:55 at Limerick, the former due to their lack of knowledge of the form and also the use of the relatively weak (in the early stages) PMU markets to guide them and the latter due to issues surrounding integrity.
Owner Carl Hinchy has had plenty of good horses over the years, including the likes of Riders Onthe Storm who won at the top level for him in 2020 plus numerous nice individuals prior to that.
However the current push for intrusive affordability checks to place a bet when such checks aren’t needed to buy expensive clothes, cars, holidays etc. has seen him state that he has had enough and that this season will be his last involvement in ownership.
Carl was kind enough to detail the exact figures to the Racing Post in a story published on 15th August stating that during the 2022/23 season his total fees were £121,500 and total return from prize money was £94,000.
Those races included a win in a big handicap at Aintree, a big race at Chepstow over Christmas and three seconds from one horse at the biggest racecourse of them all, Cheltenham.
The stats and data are fairly conclusive, the number of owners involved in the sport is on the decline.
It’s important that the sport addresses that issue and the betting factor is a huge part of that.
In the past the talk has been of bookmaker restrictions, which while undoubtedly still a consideration seem to have become less of an issue relative to restrictions on accounts due to firms wanting to see source of funds and proof of income for affordability checks.
While nobody wants to see problem gamblers punting on horse racing, football, sports or any other form of gambling it’s important to address the issues without having too much of an impact on the enjoyment of others.
It’s becoming clear thanks in no small part to the likes of Carl Hinchy, trainer Gary Moore and others that the authorities and firms are making it almost impossible at times to get a bet on a horse and if that is putting owners off having horses in training in the UK as appears to be the case then that is a major concern for the future of the sport, one which is arguably already too reliant on certain sources for funding and participation.
A lot is made of World Pool during the big meetings and a global tote is a brilliant idea and is one possible option for punters and owners alike with regards UK racing.
However it’s important to note that World Pool won’t want to cover all UK meetings (just the best) and that a strong Tote market would be hugely helpful with regards to owners getting bets on.
I’ve seen and heard plenty of quotes recently about how weak the markets and pools are on the Tote in addition to seeing paid content promoting various bets.
Having bet regularly into PMU/Tote markets myself in recent years the main complaint from many (myself included at times) is a lack of liquidity.
If the current Tote set up can improve that it could become a legitimate third option – on top of the bookmakers and betting exchanges for owners wanting to back their horses.
In addition the inability of punters and owners to get a bet on off course may lead to a stronger on course market, which while there’s been a lot of talk about how the game is gone, there’s no punters in the ring anymore, and half the books are following Betfair could still offer a beacon of light assuming there are bookmakers in the ring willing to lay a bet to higher staking owners and trainers.