A full-time punter (I hate the phrase ‘‘professional punter’’) has done a statistical study showing an overwhelming correlation of the last tote update (which happens about 40 seconds after the jump) and ‘‘events’’ in the first few seconds of the races. In other words, if a horse gets a ‘‘fly’’ at the start, its projected dividend dips. If a favoured horse ‘‘blows’’ the start, everything else ‘‘tightens’’ and the slow-away horse ‘‘eases’’ slightly in the tote approximates.
It is important to remind ourselves, under the governmentrequired rules for the TAB, all ‘‘parimutual’’ betting must close no later than precisely when the race actually starts. Not doing so would put the TAB’s government licence in jeopardy. The starter’s button used to be connected to the tote – when he pushed his button, the tote shut down instantaneously. Now, it appears to be done manually by someone watching Sky Channel. The difficulty with any manual method, however, is that there is a slight signal delay with the Sky picture. Progress isn’t always positive.
At Rosehill on Saturday, the ‘‘big screen’’ is in ‘‘real time’’, which means it is correct. The monitors around the grandstand are behind by about two seconds. I understand pubs, clubs and Tabs are 1 1/2 to two seconds in arrears, and home Sky is delayed by three to five seconds. At country courses, this is all extended, with technical reasons meaning the delay is four to seven seconds.
On Saturday, as part of an experiment, my clerk was able to have several bets with an oncourse tote operator after he saw the gates open.
I often see men in the grandstand, usually in pairs, on computers with binoculars (field glasses are an uncommon phenomenon nowadays) watching the start of the race. Good on them.
For the TABs, there is a ‘‘moral hazard’’ involved. It is in the TAB’s interest to keep the pool open as long as possible – the more it holds, the more commission it makes. It is also in its interest for large-turnover players to prosper. But the punter’s study appears to show an unfair advantage is being taken in those few seconds. If that is the case, it is totally unacceptable. It is also against the TAB’s ‘‘gazetted’’ rules. It must stop.
Betfair is in a similar position. It relies on Sky’s pictures to suspend betting and faces the same ‘‘moral hazard’’. I don’t think the situation is good enough.
BMW Day 2015 belonged to jockey James McDonald with his five wins, on Medcaut, Catkins, Generalife, Hauraki and BMW winner Hartnell.
In this day and age, the average age of jockeys has crept up. The higher weight scale has kept the older journeymen in the game. But 22-year-old New Zealander McDonald is a breath of fresh air.
Savvy punters love him. They believe if you back all his mounts, over a period, you’ll show a handsome profit. My figures show, before Saturday, you’d have made 11 per cent at SP backing him over the past 12 months. That could translate to quadrupling your bank over the year.
From whip to crop
Racing was again attacked on television over the whips issue. The anti-whip people are wrong and out of order for many reasons. But racing should be more on the front foot. If you have whip rules, like the number of times a runner can be struck, it must be enforced effectively. If the horse, ridden by a rule-breaching jockey, was disqualified from the race (with betting consequences), whip transgressions would disappear. The complainers could not keep pointing out these breaches as evidence.
Also, while the padded whip doesn’t hurt big furry horses, the word ‘‘whip’’ stings. When I was a keen rider, it was a crop. Please, may we delete the word whip from our vocabulary and the rule book? Let’s go with crop – it is a better description anyway.
Blue is the colour
My wife Gai did an interview during the week with Caroline Searcy and Richard Freedman on Sky’s Autumn Live (I was there, too). It is a great show.
I was chatting with resident stylist/colourist, Nadia Benucci, and she explained ‘‘cyan’’ is the best colour for television. Cyan is a turquoise blue. Both Caroline and Richard were dutifully dressed featuring cyan.
When racing colours were instituted in 1760 in England, the Duke of Devonshire asked George Stubbs (the best-ever equine artist) what silks he should select. Stubbs said ‘‘straw’’ because it balances the green of grass and straw is still the Devonshire colours. They look great.
I now realise that Gai’s turquoise racing colours are an inspired choice – the best for television. Clever Gai!
We had the pleasure of spending time with the world’s leading equine sculptor, Charlie Langton, last week. The Englishman is out here for Coolmore Stud to do a lifesize statue of its champion stallion Fastnet Rock. Good on Coolmore.
The Sydney Morning Herald: March 30th 2015