Answers to the ‘too much racing’ conundrum

Paul Bittar wants to see horses run more often.

Paul Bittar wants to see horses run more often.

"He who pays the piper calls the tune", or so the saying goes.

And in racing it's the Levy Board that makes most song requests of the BHA's race planning department. That's fair enough, given that they are a majority contributor to racing's finances - from a prize money perspective, at least - despite reducing their input by over a third since heading offshore en masse.

So, are the bookmakers getting value for money from their contribution? And is the British racing public being well served by the current arrangements? Who else contributes - and takes out of - racing's pool of money? And how can we achieve a fairer distribution of the wealth, assuming of course that you believe it is currently unfair?

At the heart of most of these questions is another one: how can racing achieve more runners per race whilst still ensuring that its paymasters - the courses and the bookmakers - get the volume of 'product' they demand?

Paul Bittar, chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), believes the key is to encourage the horse population to race more often: if every horse in training ran once more per season, all of racing's competition issues disappear, Bittar contends. And, in principle at least, that sounds like an easy enough goal to achieve.

But in practice, the converse has been true, with an almost linear reduction in the average number of runners per race year on year since 2008. The idea for this post came from a perception I felt that this summer's racing - outside of the big festival meetings - had been some of the poorest, most uncompetitive, fare I can remember; a perception that was reinforced by some of the more vocal members of racing's twitterati.

There's more than likely some recency bias in that notion, but I thought I'd run the numbers anyway. I used horseracebase and the most recent BHA 'Fact Pack' - from 2011 - to pull the data together, and in the charts below I looked specifically at the period May to August, the evening racing 'season', when we seem to have wall-to-wall racing, but where the quantity of races is not matched by the quantity of runners.

Irrespective of quality, more runners generally equates to more competitive racing, and that is what everyone wants. Here is the overall breakdown of runners per race between May and August each year from 2008 to 2013:

 

Breakdown Runners Wins Races Runners/Race
2008 37862 3698 3693 10.25
2009 38292 3859 3848 9.95
2010 37954 4023 4016 9.45
2011 36950 4034 4024 9.18
2012 36894 3951 3943 9.36
2013 36534 4155 4144 8.82

 

As you can see, while there was a brief resurgence last year, that has since regressed to the previous pattern of decline. In fact, the rate of decline has been the sharpest in the period. At the same time, the number of races between May and August has risen, from 3,693 in 2008 to 4,144 this year. That's 12.22% more races, or almost an extra eighth. Such a rise is polarically at odds with the desired outcome of creating deeper fields and more competitive racing. Quod erat demonstrandum.

It divides the pool of horses more ways, especially - as we'll see in a minute - certain segments of that pool; and it also divides the available prize fund more ways. Here's how the prize money available for the race affects the number of runners:

 

Prize Money Runners Wins Races Runners/Race
A) 0-4,000 142977 15157 15117 9.46
B) 4,001-8,000 49165 5535 5530 8.89
C) 8,001-10,500 7276 779 776 9.38
D) 10,501-13,000 5187 493 493 10.52
E) 13,001-17,000 2455 244 243 10.10
F) 17,001-21,000 2935 296 296 9.92
G) 21,001-25,000 2699 280 277 9.74
H) 25,001-30,000 1871 163 163 11.48
I) 30,001-35,000 2485 198 198 12.55
J) 35,001-40,000 1096 101 101 10.85
K) 40,001-50,000 1270 93 93 13.66
L) 50,001-75,000 2356 158 158 14.91
M) 75,001-100,000 983 78 78 12.60
N) Above 100,000 1731 145 145 11.94

[N.B. Wins is higher than races because of dead heats]

It will hardly come as a surprise that big purses attract more runners. And it's therefore logical that the smallest purses attract the smallest fields. The average number of runners per race for races paying £10,500 or less to the winner is lower than any other prize money bracket. This is in part down to prize money, but there is also another factor at play here. Let's review the number of such races, in the same table above.

Note how 15,117 races out of a total of 23,668 were worth £4,000 or less. That's 63.87% - almost two-thirds - of all races worth £4,000 or less. And it gets worse. Fully 87.24% of races - or seven out of every eight - were worth £8,000 or less.

 

Race Class Runners Wins Races Runners/Race
Class 1 10117 1092 1088 9.30
Class 2 14987 1217 1217 12.31
Class 3 18064 2024 2020 8.94
Class 4 57125 6484 6471 8.83
Class 5 78653 8383 8360 9.41
Class 6 45513 4518 4510 10.09

 

The above table ignores the two races in Class 7 during the period in question, but it shows some very interesting class anomalies. Specifically, it seems that the programme of races in Class 3 and 4 isn't working. Those races - despite often having decent prize money - are attracting weak fields.This is an obvious area for race planners to hone in on, and see what can be done to improve the competitiveness of such events.

These are often conditions races, novice events or contests of a 'graduation' nature, which by definition have a smaller catchment of horses. The data suggests such animals are over-accommodated, and there should be more handicap races in these class brackets.

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So what about the horse population, and how it overlays the class brackets. Well, for simplicity sake, let's focus only on the flat turf horses, and consider them by official rating. There were, in last week's BHA ratings, 11,471 horses with a flat turf rating. Here's how they break down:

 

110+ 153
101-100 372
91-100 655
81-90 1234
71-80 2015
0-70 7042

 

These ratings bands are broadly aligned with class bands. 7,042 of the 11,471 rated horses are rated 70 or less, and will generally run in Class 6 races. That's 61.4% of the rated horses in the lowest grade.

Of course, many of these are so poor that their opportunities to run are limited to those races that are under-subscribed. Their presence may bump up the numbers, but it does little to increase the level of competition in such heats.

So what exactly contributes to runner numbers? Well, as you'd expect there's more to it than simply the race programme factors. The state of the course is obviously a consideration: less runners contest races on firm or heavy ground than on good, and courses like Brighton and Bath (and poor Ffos Las, which suffers with both extremes), tend to need less starting stalls than most.

As well as the going, course constitution is a factor, with tracks like Yarmouth, Fakenham and Epsom not to all trainers' or owners' tastes. And, allied to that is the state of the track maintenance. Yarmouth and Newmarket's Rowley course are alleged to have quite material ridges on them these days, and may be in need of serious remedial work, so I'm told. Then there's geographic location. Yarmouth is blessed here, being so close to Newmarket's major training base. That mitigates for some of its constitutional issues, though the quality of racehorse to be seen there in recent years has declined.

Thirsk and Redcar in Yorkshire similarly seem to benefit from their proximity to the Middleham and Malton training bases, with some of the highest average field size figures through the summer months.

On the flip side, courses such as Ffos Las (again) are pretty remote and struggle to get decent fields, despite putting up some pretty good prize money. Today's meeting at the track has just 44 declared runners across seven races, at a miserly average of 6.29. Such courses are unattractive to owners as well.

Obviously, all courses will have some local owners, but some courses have more than others. This is one of the reasons that Ascot seems to be a lot more popular than, say, Newmarket these days. And then there's prize money itself. Clearly, better prize money attracts bigger fields. The biggest field at Hamilton today by a margin is for a £15,000 handicap. That's not always the case, but if the race conditions are framed well - as in this series finale - then a big field is almost assured. It's my view that all courses should hold such series events, as they build interest, continuity and decent competitive fields.

**

The Levy is not the only contributor to the prize fund, not by a long chalk. In fact, in 2011, the Levy Board's contribution was just a third, compared with just over half the year before.

The shortfall was made up by owners' entry fees (16.4%), sponsorship (19.9%), and the racecourse executives themselves (28.2%). It is right and proper in my opinion that racecourses contribute significantly to the prize pool, as they - alongside the bookmakers - are the main beneficiary of the 'product' they host. As well as gate receipts, they also receive sponsorship, food and beverage sales, conference and other non-racing revenue, and the increasingly lucrative media rights payments.

In this context, it is certainly time that some privately owned racecourse starting contributing more and taking less from the central fund. Unless they are providing specific 'product' to serve bookmakers' quiet times, like Monday racing for instance, or all weather racing in the winter, there should be a ceiling to the percentage of their total fund which can be received from the levy.

Owners seem to be the single hardest hit entity in racing's food chain. Owners’ gross expenditure in 2011 was £389m, whilst receiving an income of just £85m through prize money and sponsorship (down from £92m in 2008). That means the average owner got back 21.85% of what they put in. Now, whilst I am an owner, and whilst I certainly don't do it as an investment, I do feel it's unreasonable to expect racing's core patrons to write off more than 78p of every pound they spend.

**

So here's a proposal for race funding:

The top tier 'self-liquidating' tracks, like Ascot and Cheltenham, should be obliged to cover a majority of prize money through their various business means: on course revenue, media rights and sponsorship, and so on. Levy contribution should be capped at 20% of total prize money. Hats off to Ascot, which contributes more than most, and had a levy input of only 18.4% in 2011. By contrast, Goodwood had a levy input of 36%. That is, quite simply, way too high.

The second tier tracks should receive a greater share of the levy, but on a 'performance' basis. That is, the more runners they attract per race, the greater their share of the fund. It is very hard to argue with the logic of this, given that both bookmakers and the BHA agree that British racing 'product' is enhanced by greater competition.

Greater competition comes primarily from more runners per race and, as we've seen above, more runners per race happens when prize money is higher. The real crux is that there needs to be far greater accountability by tracks to run at or close to an operating profit. All businesses should be viable, and racecourses are no exception. The implication of this is, most likely, a 'rationalization' of the number of courses we currently have.

Whilst some sections of our community immediately get defensive at such a suggestion (generally those involved with courses operating as pseudo-charities), we've seen time and again (see our 'Lost Racecourses' section) how the market forces of supply and demand have been the undoing of some tracks. Setting all emotion aside, that's just the way it must be, as Folkestone and Hereford have most recently shown (not too dearly missed by the vast majority, I'll wager).

The flip side is a course like Aintree, which looked doomed to extinction at one point but has now become one of the premier tracks in the country (albeit receiving 28% levy funding in 2011), and has just announced its first million pound Grand National - so much for the detractors of that race! With racecourses becoming increasingly savvy about how to generate revenues (concerts and conferences), they are far better placed to fund their own piece of the sport.

And, with the imminent return - tails between their legs like paroled embezzlers - of the offshore bookmaking fraternity, racing should soon be enjoying a markedly bigger prize fund, despite the rise of other sports betting, and gambling in general, competing for the racing pound. More of the funding needs to trickle further down the class scale to reduce the staggering top-heavy nature of prize money.

Moreover, the programme in the interim bands - Class 3 and 4 - needs revision to encourage a greater number of horses to compete for what are generally very fair (relative to Class 5 and 6) purses. The minimum thresholds for prize money advocated by the Horseman's Group is a good idea in my view, and that 'tariff' should be index linked.

And, finally, those racecourses which do best in attracting decent field sizes should be rewarded by being able to offer better prize money, in what would become a virtuous circle.

**

Clearly, this is a thorny thicket of a subject, and there may be reasonable objections to some - perhaps many - of the suggestions above. But the matter deserves wider debate from racing's stakeholders - not just the BHA and the bookies - as the central tenet of 'more racing' emanating from BHA HQ  may be fundamentally flawed.

Matt

p.s. So that's what I think. How would you solve the quality / quantity balance issue, whilst still generally satisfying the BHA, bookies and racecourses? Leave a comment and join the debate.

 

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22 replies
  1. Mal Boyle
    Mal Boyle says:

    When I started managing betting shops in 1972 (No racing on Sundays) a general week looked like this: Monday to Thursday: two meetings on the quarter and half hour, with one eight race greyhound meeting. Friday–much the same except there were often three meetings (10-20-30 minutes past the hour etc). Four meetings occurred on Saturday’s more often than not with just ‘Hackney dogs’ in the morning (11.00 start). Evening racing had finished by now (August Bank Holiday being the last Windsor fixture) and even then, we had to be closed by 6.30.

    Yes, I managed a shop in Central London–but we were packed out from start to finish. The situation was ideal.

  2. Peter says:

    Small fields are very disappointing events – On track we usually ignore these races which spoils the racing day out. A refund should be available when more than one race is less than 8 runners or some similar compensation.

  3. terence martindale says:

    As an ex manager of a betting shop until fairly recently I share Mel Boyle’s view that the situation was ideal and would go so far as to say that it wasn’t broke and didn’t need fixing. We are now paying the price of over-sight and over-ambition on the part of Racing’s rulers and its much too close association with the book-making fraternity. it is patently obvious for one reason or another British Racing cannot compete in terms of prize money at the lower end of the market and should not attempt to do so by increasing the quantity. This is at the core of all the problems that circular arguments and analyses will never solve. Brevity alone demands that I refrain from citations of a specific nature that can cover any one or all of the problems concerned with horse-racing as it is today. Let the Rulers beware.

  4. richard says:

    Hi Matt,
    Interesting viewpoint but wary of conclusions. I enjoy backing horses and have done so for years but the thought of a diet of 16 runner class 3/4/5/6 handicaps leaves me cold. I haven’t done the analysis but seems to me that we have many more handicaps than in the past. I enjoy, as to do many others I know, enjoy/invest and am fascinated by the the maiden/novice races.

    Your comments on individual racecourses about being a business is correct but surely we need to look at each track individually rather than group as a whole. For example, Newton Abbot race only in the summer and tend to have small fields but their level of prize money is relatively high. Hence higher prize money means bigger fields is not a given. It would be fascinating to know how they achieve the level of prize money they do – do they have a high funding level, or local sponsorship although yesterday’s meeting was Tote based sponsorship.

  5. terence martindale says:

    It is a disgrace to see betting-shops become amusement arcades and casinos of the lowest order.Staff become numb and jaded, punters feel saturated and cheated, shops become a blight on the high-streets populated more by racing’s idiots and machine-freaks and eventually the butt of political expediency.Greyhound racing alone should have clued the venture capitalists that this is a delicate industry fit for decent-minded and hard-working people who love what they do. I did. Now it has become like Mcdonalds and the like. More drugs in the shops and more drugs in the horses; more cheating with the prices and non-runners, more cheating with the machines, more high staff turnover, more unprofitable and run-down shops and a general malaise all-round saved only by the noble Equus that still captivates the general public with its talented few. Just like the badger situation at present Racing is ready for a good old cull. Have blokes like me crawling and begging to get back in the game. We would gladly serve.

  6. Robert says:

    Here are my thoughts on the subject…………

    1) Bookmakers would have us believe that racing wouldn’t exist without them and hold racing to ransom as a consequence. Utter rot!
    No one wants to see a tote monopoly but it would be an option should it come to that.

    2) Bookmakers should be sold a license at a set fee each year which would put an end to the farcical levy negotiations. If they didn’t pay up they wouldn’t be allowed to offer odds on horse racing.

    It would be their choice to either put up or shove off.

    3) Any race that attracts five runners or fewer should automatically be scrapped. As should all conditions races that are nothing but a joke. Trainers and owners are obviously not interested in them. They are completely uncompetitive and a drain on resources.

    4) The money saved from scrapping the small field races would go into a pool. That pool would then be used to reward owners of horses that win five races or more ( two of which should be handicaps ) and have their training fees fully paid for that year if the winnings doesn’t cover such costs.

    That would give an incentive to run their horses more often and go some way to quashing the “none triers” theorists.

    5) When I first got into racing, in the seventies, any horse that finished a close second in a race was deemed “a winner without a penalty”. Only the winners being raised by the handicapper.

    Now horses can finish 5th, fall when leading, or suffer some other misfortune and the handicapper puts them up by several pounds in some instances thus making life harder to win in the near future. Which leaves trainers no option but to run their charges down the field to alleviate the burden until they are back on a competitive mark.

    In my humble opinion the handicapper should shoulder some of the blame for the decline in the standard of racing. There are very few class three and four handicaps, instead we are fed a diet of class 5 & 6 races where very few runners are actually in with a chance.

    Finally (Phew!) Why do we still have dirt racing throughout the summer months? Another drain on the purse for rubbish racing that I have yet to meet anyone who is remotely interested in. It should revert back to its origins, cover for the winter months and under no circumstances be allowed to continue after the commencement of the turf season.

    Summer jumping is also an anathema to me. They invariably attract few runners especially if the F word is in the going description.

    Thank you for letting me have a rant and congratulations for a well researched piece.

    Regards Robert.

  7. Robert Day says:

    Yes I quite agree with the above, the bookies to day are not concerned so much about horse racing more about how much money they can grab from the public I E one armed bandits
    in the shops. I personally would like to see them outlawed so the rest of us could concentrate
    on the job in hand, it would see and end to the fools going in and causing a fuss.
    I also believe the bookies should give far more to levy and then we would see better prize
    money and stiffer competition,it would help a good deal when laying especially.

  8. Matt Bisogno says:

    Some interesting thoughts so far, thank you. I think it’s dangerous to just ‘bash bookies’, and/or to focus on betting shops. Much of the bookmakers’ racing ‘handle’ (turnover) comes from telephone and internet betting, which is offshore and therefore outwith the current levy agreement.

    I think we also need to keep in mind a) the necessity to UK racing of bookmaker involvement, for a whole host of reasons; and, b) the part that racecourses themselves play in the funding of the sport, which is a subject I feel has slipped under the radar somewhat thanks to the ongoing public levy negotiation spats.

    Matt

  9. Elves says:

    A well written piece. The statistics provided give good evidence of what racegoers anecdotally think I.e. there is too much low quality racing and poor levels of prize money. The BHA need to be more proactive when devising and planning the race calendar. I also think some of the smaller regional courses could be given greater opportunities. A bit like the breeders cup series in the US move a flat or jumps ‘competition’ around the tracks not just default to HQ, Ascot, Cheltenham. Alas I think British horse racing missed the one clear oopportunity to sort racing finances forever by failing to buy the Tote.

  10. peter says:

    The more races and meetings the harder it is for punters to keep track of everything. Although small fields aren’t ideal, they offer easier pickings for finding winners. So they can redress the balance in our favour, which isn’t a bad thing either.

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Smaller fields equals shorter priced favourites, Peter, so winners may be easier to find but they’re no more likely to pay the bills! 😉

      Matt

      • peter says:

        Matt the point is if you just have big fields with so much racing now available, winner finding takes a lot of time. You don’t necessarily back the short priced fav, find a poor one to oppose in a 5-8 runner race, I win a lot more often doing that than concentrating on big fields where there are 6 or more contenders that can win. Even so I’m not averse to the better quality big fields, and have backed many a big priced winner. Most punters back for pleasure and work to pay the bills.

  11. Jez says:

    Hi Matt,
    A bi-annual return to the topic of racing quality (and quantity) and purse values huh. This is one of those areas that causes more controversy than any other in racing, it gets a band aid once in a while and is left to recuperate when what it needs is major surgery and a prolonged course of fiscal antibiotics!
    I fully agree with you about the quality of racing this year – my race notes are littered with comments along the lines of “… ridiculously poor quality today”, “… how many class 6 races can be fitted into a day? I’m losing the will to live, let alone rate out the fare on offer today” – but have had the niggling perception that, on average, the SP on offer has fallen over the last few years too (not withstanding BOG offers). This has a marked effect upon those of us who gamble for a living and, I would tentatively suggest, along with our less selective brothers and sisters (the armchair and casual punters) are the second biggest financial contributors to racing income after owners. It is really quite bizarre that Racing, as a product, largely ignores its principal consumers – race-goers and punters. The exceptions being those courses that have tried to make a day at the races a social event with after racing shows etc., which I applaud.

    A cure for the ailment? Obviously, stage one would be a larger levy upon the bookmakers but, how does one achieve that without the odds being pared down (again) to recoup that increase from punters. I think that we can agree that an increase in entry fees (charged to owners/trainers not entry to the course) is not viable and would be self defeating unless the prize pot increased by a proportionally greater amount. Minimum field sizes would help but, just how do you enforce that? A redistribution of prize money within the race classes, as you suggest, would take money away from the majority of owners with animals who are just not good enough to run anywhere but at Class 5/6 level – how many of the “fun” owners would continue.

    I’ve a trio of suggestions, which have probably been muted before and been lost in the background noise of vested interests (the final one definitely has):

    1. Introduce a regional interest in racing and offer something of more interest than the usual low level fillers that dominate race days. Create a racing “league” like structure and competition to run through the flat (plus Winter AW / Summer NH campaigns) season. Horses would compete at a level commensurate with their official rating and earn points throughout the season – so, a Class 6 (OR < 50), Class 5 (OR 51 – 70) etc. series of competitions [ORs to be adjusted to produce a reasonably even grouping and set for horses aged 3+ at the start of the series]. The competition could be run regionally (i.e. Scotland, North, West Midlands/Wales, East Anglia, South East, South West – whatever groupings produce a balanced number of yards & runners) to produce a regional winner, these winners would then compete against each other at a rotating series of venues annually – say, York one year, Newmarket another, Ffos Las another etc., such that no one venue dominates and offers "home advantage" on a regular basis. Bookmakers should love this idea as the range of potential betting opportunities is virtually limitless.

    2. A bit of punter (consumer) friendly modification to gambling by changing payout terms to reflect the original declared number of runners in a race (Bookies would hate this). How many times have you rated out a 16+ runner handicap, including the place value, to have one or two (it matters not the number) horses withdrawn, taking the field below 16 runners and thus reducing both the number of placed positions paid and odds for those places? (To their credit, Betfair already operate this way – though I'm unsure of the level of altruism vs complexity of rebalancing a diminished field place market that dictated this decision). Terms of payout would be based upon the original number of horses declared to run and printed in the Racing Post (or other trade papers) on the day of the race such that a 16+ runner handicap, paying to 4 places, does not become a 15 runner handicap paying to 3 places at the off. Similarly, a race paying 1/4 odds for a place does not become a one paying 1/5 odds by virtue of a non runner. (Obviously, deductions in payout for the non running of heavy favourite(s) would remain to cover non runner refunds but, honestly, does the non running of a couple of outsiders really warrant the reduction in places paid or fractional odds for those places?)

    3. An old chestnut but it needs revisiting. Moving the timetable of the UK Classic races to be better spread through the season. I don't think that I need expand upon this as it has been discussed many, many times over – for over forty years to my knowledge.

    Some food for thought.

  12. Hugh says:

    Hi Matt, you mentioned the offshore bookies returning like ‘paroled embezzlers@ great phrase. Are they somehow being compelled so to do?
    Hugh

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Hugh

      Yes and no. The UK government is introducing a ‘point of consumption’ tax which basically offsets most of the value of betting companies being offshore, as they’ll pay tax on profits on all bets taken on UK sport (not just horse racing).

      Matt

  13. Michael Sleddon says:

    Why do we have a free market betting system that is out of synch with the rest of European racing? What system is used in France and in (Bittar’s) Australia, and what can be learned from this?
    Yes, bookies make huge profits and pay very little tax I don’t buy the idea of not much coming from racing, or most profits being untouchable whatever the source. Whatever market they are in, the bookmaking raison d’etre is to milk it for what it is worth. They will continue to dress up the weighted dice as a good deal for as long as they can get away with it. The fault lies with weakness of the administrators and the strength of the pro-bookmaking lobby in Whitehall. The bookmakers just do what the are allowed to because they are good at it, and they always have an eye on the competition.

    Whatever the complexities of programming, surely it comes down to great profits being made from all punting and not enough going back in to sport, hence low prize money, syndicate ownership, struggling trainers, struggling courses prize money not covering costs, and poor quality small fields, somewhat stretching the advantage of racing heritage no other country has.
    This game has been a sinking ship for years, and unless there is a shift in power will continue to leak below the waterline. Without certain wealthy overseas patrons (I don’t mean the crumbs from the table) it would history anyway.
    No basic difference between bookmaking an finance in the City being to clever and too powerful to be regulated.

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Michael

      Some interesting points there. As I’ve indicated in my post, I don’t think it’s quite as one-dimensional as getting more money from bookmakers (although that clearly is an important angle). Many racecourse make large profits these days and do not contribute enough back into the prize pool, instead over-relying on the levy, owners and sponsors. That’s a key area to address alongside the ongoing battle with the bookies, in my view.

      Matt

  14. Chris Baker says:

    Brilliant, as always Matt. Quite a skill to engender such great responses.
    Bit late for me for a full response, but one will follow later if that’s ok.
    On the subject of ” bookie bashing” however, just two thoughts.
    Big boys, ie shops may pay to the levy more but terms, conditions and odds are invariably poor.
    Offshore operators, no respect for the levy, tend to be better at all above factors.
    What about championing the merits of, for example, Bet365, who, if I’m not mistaken, are the only major online bookmaker (ie no shops) who are still based in the UK and therefore contribute fully to the Levy, yet offer some of the best value odds, bonuses etc etc. These sort of people should be praised from the rooftops.
    The big, major players in the bookies World are the culprits and the sad fact is that UK racing plays only a small part in their business these days.
    Great analysis as always; like to debate further.
    Cheers. Chris

  15. les says:

    having worked in the betting industry for thirty years I would agree with many of the comments already made. basically the racecourses, the bookmakers and the bhb are all looking after their own interests. they need to work together and come up with a racing calendar beneficial to all. if your in the bookies you need at least a race every 10 minutes to keep you interested. preferably with 8 runners for each way bets. over the years things have changed in the right direction but now need to go further. otherwise racing will be overtaken by other betting markets- football-virtual- irish lottery- games machines-dogs-you name it!

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