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Saturday, 19 May 2018

Horse Racing in Britain Faces Shake Up After New FOBT Laws

News that the government is to reduce limits on fixed odds betting terminals to just £2 per spin, will have knock on consequences, both intended and unintended. Whilst the bookmakers argue that thousands of jobs will be placed at risk, will it be horse racing that is the real loser from the new shake up?

When you ask people on the high street, few would argue that the new restrictions on the value of bets that are allowed to be placed on so called FOBTS shouldn’t be changed. These machines are known as the crack cocaine of gambling, allowing punters to bet £100 every 20 seconds. For someone with a gambling addiction, the temptation is too great and too frequent.

One unintended consequence of today’s announcement will be the shake up of funding to British horse racing. There are estimates that the sport could lose as much as £60 million in funding as a result of the new laws. That said there are already moves underfoot, to fill this hole, with a proposals being considered on widening the horse racing levy to include bets placed on overseas racing.

Whilst the severe reduction on betting stakes for FOBT machines, will inevitably have a harsh effect on high street bookmaker’s profits, the industry is known for its creativity. We’ll likely see a greater shift to online promotions. Free horse racing bets are already popular with online bookmakers, and we’ll likely see this kind of activity increase.

Ministers will likely find ways to fill the hole left by the ban by increasing funding from other betting sources, but it’s hard to imagine that this isn’t the end of extended regulation in the UK gambling industry. In future years it’s highly probable that the fight will be broadened, with limits to bet sizes and spin times broadened to include online portfolios as well. It will be important that the horse racing levy is updated as legislation changes to ensure that the sport remains viable for years to come.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Value Bets

The word ‘value’ frequently bandied around so often in horse racing circles that it’s almost lost all meaning. If we say that a horse represents value at the odds on offer, we mean that the betting market – in other words, the bookmakers and the betting public – has underestimated its winning chance and hence offered longer odds than expected. Of course, whether or not a horse represents value is a matter of opinion, based on your assessment of its winning chance.

One way to formalise the process is to create an odds line, which expresses an opinion, in the form of odds, about the winning chance of each horse. You can read all about creating your own odds line here but, essentially, you need to:

Assign a numeric rating, such as a Racing Post Rating (RPR) or Timeform rating, to each horse in the race.

Add up the ratings for each horse to obtain a total.
Divide each individual rating by the total to obtain the probability of each horse winning the race.
Calculate the reciprocal of each probability to obtain the odds against the horse winning the race.
Compare the ‘real world’ odds on offer with those in your odds line to determine which horses represent value and which don’t.

Of course, you may not have the time, inclination or resources to create an odds line for every race you analyse and, certainly, in smaller fields it’s possible to calculate acceptable odds for your selection in a less formal way, by using your skill and judgement. By way of illustration, imagine a hypothetical race with six runners, in which you’ve identified a likely selection and a possible danger to the selection, based on your analysis on the form book. Allowing one point, or even money, for the unexpected and one point for the danger to your selection, 2/1 or longer odds would represent value, while anything shorter than 2/1 would not.

Note that allowing one point for the unexpected means that, even in race where your selection has no apparent dangers, the minimum odds you’d accept would be even money. This precludes backing any horse at odds-on, which isn’t a bad philosophy for the average punter. If you back, say, a 4/7 chance, you’ll be more relieved at not losing 7 points than winning 4 points once the race is over. Try it if you don’t believe me.

Many bookmakers now offer ‘guaranteed’ prices, which mean that even busy punters are no longer subject, solely, to the vagaries of the S.P. market. If you’re making selections based on sound winning potential, it’s only reasonable to expect that other punters will draw the same conclusions about them and shorten the odds on offer about them in due course. A quick look at Oddschecker, or a similar odds comparison site, will soon tell you if the odds on offer from your chosen bookmaker are competitive and, unless they’re artificially short, there’s really no reason not to take a guaranteed price.

As a final word on the thorny topic of value, while it’s true that horses that fail to complete the course over hurdles or fences, for whatever reason, are often sent off at seemingly generous prices on their next start, beware of apparently ‘unlucky’ losers. If a horse falls or unseats its rider with a race apparently at its mercy, it may be priced as if it had actually won the race and, if so, may be best left alone until is does actually win a race.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

What Are The Chances?

We all dream of picking a mammoth odds outsider that we see promise in when others overlook it - the type of bet that you tell your mates about in the pub, and that becomes one of your favourite sporting moments. It certainly doesn't hurt if it leaves you with a healthy profit in the process either!

Of course, with the number of near misses you can experience along the way, it can seem to be almost an impossibility until it actually happens, like a lottery win kind of scenario. But indeed it does happen, hopefully you've experienced the thrill of such a win. There are plenty of newspaper and online stories demonstrating them too, frequently with football bets and just as often with horse racing wagers, and so we're in the right business at least!

A very recent example of someone winning big was an Austin, Texas woman who bet on a horse named Funny Duck in the Pat Day Mile at the the Kentucky Derby. She placed the small $18 bet while at the Retama Park racecourse in Selma, Texas and her selection romped home at 39-1. "That's impressive" I hear you say, but what's more impressive, and shows what is possible when your luck's in, is the fact that the bet was part of a 'Pick 5', essentially an accumulator. And the odds of other four horses were not exactly small either for the most part, and the bet aptly finished with Justify's win in the Kentucky Derby.

Here are horses, races and odds:

Limousine Liberal – Churchill Downs Stakes – 4/1

Maraud – American Turf Stakes – 8/1

Funny Duck – Pat Day Mile –  39/1

Yoshida – Old Forester Turf Classic – 9/1

Justify – Kentucky Derby – 3/1

The lucky woman's stake was just $18, I've had a free bet offer or two significantly bigger than that from UK bookmakers! And her winnings - a staggering $1.2 million. Not a bad day's work, right? A   life changing win at a day at the races. Wins of this level are few and far between, but they do happen as this very recent win attests to!

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

3.45 Ascot, Wednesday, May 2

Ascot is one of the countries most popular racecourses, especially at the time of Royal Ascot in June but, also all year around in part on account of how many group one races it hosts. Many enjoy the thrill of being there live and who can blame them, and the thrill of beting on course, whereas others opt to bet online with sports bettting options like . Either way, if you're backing a winner that's the main thing!                    

Eirene sweated up before her reappearance at Newmarket two weeks ago, but still ran a race full of promise to finish third, beaten 2 lengths, behind Soliloquy in the Nell Gwyn Stakes on her first attempt over 7 furlongs. Dean Ivory’s Declaration Of War filly drops back to 6 furlongs in the Merriebelle Stable Pavilion Stakes (3.45) at Ascot on Wednesday and, with the going on the Berkshire course already good to soft, soft in places and with heavy rain forecast on Wednesday morning, could have her ideal underfoot conditions.

She’s 2-3 on soft going, with her only defeat coming behind subsequent Gimcrack Stakes winner Sands Of Mali at Nottingham last August. She also ran well in defeat when a rallying sixth of 11, beaten 5½ lengths, behind Clemmie in the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket last September, despite becoming unbalanced on the run down into “the Dip” on the Rowley Course.

As the only filly in the field, she receives a 3lb weight-for-sex allowance and, with the exception of topweight Fighting Irish, who carries a 4lb penalty for beating two opponents in the Group 2 Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte last October, potentially holds a fitness advantage over her rivals, all of whom are making their seasonal debuts. Dean Ivory is just 1-7 with his three-year-olds at Ascot over the last five seasons, but that shouldn’t, necessarily, be held against Eirene, who appears to have been found a decent opportunity to open her account at Pattern level.

Selection: Ascot 3.45 Eirene to win 12/1