13th January 2017
Good afternoon, friends,
In today’s ATC Extra bulletin….
The bookmaker’s bag of dirty tricks is bigger than Billy Smart’s big-top….
Most of the time the bookie gets away with his machinations, his sleight of hand and his all-round dirty dealing. But now and again, the rock is lifted and the light is shone on all the stomach-churning ugliness wriggling about underneath….
News reaches us this week that the Gambling Commission (GC) has woken from hibernation and is set on investigating allegations that some bookmakers shorten horses to cause or increase rule 4 deductions….
The GC’s hand was forced following a race at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day where Cockney Wren remained in the betting lists despite being declared a non-runner. She was subsequently cut in price – ensuring bookmakers could apply a 5p rule 4 to returns.
This is not some one-off error or oversight. On-course bookmakers report frequent approaches from representatives of the big firms – encouraging them to shorten-up potential non-runners in advance of withdrawals.
This is clearly sharp practice. Another example – in a long list of examples – of bookmakers systematically manipulating the rules and abusing the market for their own gain….
Of course, the butter-wouldn’t-melt bookmakers are up in arms – pleading innocence and feigning outrage. We are considering nominating one or two for best-actor at next year’s Golden Globes….
But the industry’s portrayal of innocence was not assisted by the US Navy Seal incident late last week.
The horse had been set to run at Dundalk on Friday but was withdrawn before 5pm on Thursday. SIS – responsible for passing on non-runners to bookies – failed to pass on details until the following morning.
In the meantime – and this is where it gets very peculiar – the horse was cut from 10s to 5/2. We are talking about Dundalk 24-hours ahead of time and a horse whose connections knew it wasn’t running…
That short price ensured a big rule 4 applied when the horse was finally withdrawn from the market.
Did bookmakers learn of US Navy Seal’s withdrawal from other sources (not difficult) and then manipulate the market accordingly? That’s what it looks like to my cynical eyes.
But no. Bookmakers insist that wasn’t the case at all. They say there was no ‘conspiracy’ at work and that the price contraction was a genuine response to money taken on the horse. As tall stories go, this one is a 6-foot 8-incher and fitted with stilts….
Of course, we don’t expect anything to come of this. Bookmakers seem to have a free pass or a get-out-of-jail-free card. We wonder if they would even be done for murder….
But if this kind of fraud has been systematically perpetrated on punters, we wonder for how long and to what financial value.
Our target race this weekend is the Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle at Kempton (2.40) where the ground is good to soft….
I am very keen on the chances of CHESTERFIELD at a big each-way quote of 16s.
Seamus Mullins hasn’t had this horse very long. He was bought out of John Ferguson’s yard at the end of November. He hadn’t run since December 2014 and first time up Mullins chose to run him in the £85k G3 Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle at Ascot in December….
He finished a well-beaten 8th that day over the 2-mile trip. Fergall was clearly the yard’s big hope that day and Chesterfield would probably have needed the run.
But what was notable about his effort was how well he stayed on from the back in the latter portion of the race – and that makes him very interesting stepping up to 21-furlongs for the first time tomorrow. It will improve him.
His run at Ascot served to highlight that he retains all his old ability. And a mark of 133 – with 5lb claimer Kevin Jones taking over duties in the saddle – is one of which the 7yo really should do business off.
I think this horse is overlooked at a big price and he can run a huge race tomorrow. I’ll be going in each-way.
In the Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle at Kempton (2.40) on Saturday afternoon….
Place terms are 1/4 1-2-3. I’ll be betting each-way.
Over on my paid ATC service, tomorrow’s Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick (3.35) is the focus of our attention….
A field of 20-runners looks set to go to post. It’s a competitive market. The favourite was in at 8s this morning – with another half-dozen horses priced-up by the firms at 10s. The layers and the market clearly feel there are plenty of runners in with chances.
I never follow the market. I’m always looking for the value – the horse the market is wrongly overlooking. In the Classic Chase, I’ve gone for one with a hell of a chance at a very nice each-way price.
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That’s all from me this week. Enjoy your weekend.
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