Roy The Boy reviews the Cheltenham festival, discusses horse racing sponsorship, awaits Boat Race prices & looks ahead to snooker's China Open.
Cunning Ryanair Detour
Hopefully you have all got the cake at Cheltenham.
I got the guts of it right including a lay of Un De Sceaux in the Champion Chase, backing Thistlecrack (both on stats) in the World Hurdle and marveling at Vautour justly running in the Ryanair Chase as I predicted in early March (check out Roy’s forecast here).
That owner Rich Ricci had previously stated his horse was to run in the Gold Cup or stay in his stable meant his participation in the Ryainair was something of a scandal and one that Channel 4 Racing’s Graham Cunningham rightly tore into. I’ve never been a Cunningham fan but that’s more to do with his irksome monotone voice seeing me turn off as opposed to actually taking on board what he is saying. Once I took the plunge, I found his assessment of most things bang on the money especially the handling of Vautour’s late switch from the Gold Cup to the Ryanair.
It’s a bad day when I’m speaking through an empty pocket. It’s not barren through what I lost, but what I should have won and I do feel robbed.
I see Bet365 allow punters to lay horses nowadays. It's straightforward take-on stuff. If something is 5/2 to win a race, they will let you back it at 2/9 to NOT win the race. But, nevertheless, it does beg the question as to if Bet365 share information, particularly of owners laying their horses to lose, with the horse racing authorities as traditional ‘layer’ Betfair has done for years. In one sense I hope that arrangement is in place. In another, the thought of Bet365 also having dossiers on all registered horse and greyhound owners, along with their extended family members, is something of a concern.
Bet365 have actually irked me this week as, back in October, I placed a season-long match bet on a skier. He was duly confirmed as a winner on Tuesday but Bet £3.65, in their infinite wisdom, declared it was a void bet seemingly as his rival had broken a leg in mid-October. If this injury really meant the bet could and should be voided (and surely it didn’t), why on earth did Bet-point-65 not refund my stakes then as opposed to sit on my money for five months?
Only Bet Authorised?
This ‘authorised betting partner scheme’ between bookmakers and the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) seems like an absolute joke. Without boring you with the fine details, the BHA are only allowing bookmakers who have entered a three-year deal and agreed to make voluntary payments to help fund British racing sponsor races.
The problem is that the major betting operators like Ladbrokes, William Hill, Paddy Power, Betfred and Coral have declined to sign up – they will sponsor adverts instead. It means the loss of high-profile sponsorship deals with racecourses aligned to the BHA policy. The Ladbrokes Wold Hurdle was run as the Ryainair World Hurdle last week for example.
Those that have signed-up include Fitzdares, Blue Riband Bet, SkyBet, 32Red, Jack Pearson, Bet365, Winning Post and Corbett Bookmakers. Firstly, if you have ever heard of some of these companies, have you ever tried placing a meaningful bet with them? Secondly, how much do these names put into the sport via sponsorship anyway?
StanJames.com has closed down an abundance of online accounts since they were bought by Unibet, the Swedish company that hate taking bets from people who might win. Unquestionably one of the worst outfits I’ve ever had anything to do with (from a betting viewpoint).
I wonder if the Stan James Champion Hurdle will remain in place for the 2017 Cheltenham Festival? Are the authorities even aware that Stan James (High St. bookmakers) and Stan James Online are now different companies with different owners and ethics.
Save Face, Boat Race
In case you've forgotten, that Great British institution - the Boat Race - is just three weeks away. The bookmakers clearly have as not one firm has yet priced it up. Once one tin-pot company do price it up, their rivals will follow suit and doubtlessly follow their prices. It means there could be some early value to be had.
One to watch.
Hurricane Higgo in China
Snooker’s World Championship is drawing closer but there’s one major event beforehand, the China Open, which starts at the end of March. With Shaun Murphy beating Stuart Bingham in the Grand Prix, it is abundantly clear the Worlds is wide open just as it was last year.
Anyway, O’Sullivan never goes to China but John Higgins does aplenty and he has prospered there. Call me sentimental, or just mental, but I think Higgins is far from a spent force and can give both China and the Worlds a real good go. I’m adding him to my portfolio alongside the resurgent Ding Junhui.
And that’s my lot this week; a week which has a real ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’ feel about it. That show being the Cheltenham Festival – and what a good one it was.
John Higgins to win the China Open Snooker @ 14/1 with Stan James