RACING TRADITION AT THE REAL DOWNTON ABBEY

This week I received an email from Highclere Thoroughbred Racing suggesting that participating in one of its partnerships would be a “perfect Christmas present.”  Highclere Castle, the namesake of Highclere Thoroughbred Racing and Highclere Stud, is the site of the fictitious Downton Abbey, the immensely popular British historical drama series for television that also was made into a movie with a sequel upcoming. 

The chairman and managing director of Highclere Thoroughbred Racing is Harry Herbert, who is the younger brother of George Herbert the eighth Earl of Carnarvon and the current resident of Highclere Castle.  Their sister Carolyn Warren and her husband John Warren own Highclere Stud, which was established by the fifth Earl of Carnarvon in 1902.  John Warren is bloodstock advisor to Queen Elizabeth II and other prominent racehorse owners.

The venerable history of the Herbert family in horse racing makes Highclere Castle a special place for folks who are fans of the sport as well as the Downton Abbey TV series. (Click here to visit the Highclere Castle website and scroll down to experience its beauty at Christmas.)

Wishing you a blessed holiday season.

GREAT POTENTIAL FOR ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN TRAINING AND RACING

Techniques for coaching human athletes and training racehorses have changed over the years with the application of video feedback, nutritional improvements, conditioning discoveries, more accurate timing technologies, and advanced medical procedures.  Now, artificial intelligence or AI promises to make further advancements.

For example, Forbes describes how Pixellot, a six-year-old Israeli company that employs “technology to maximize talent,” for such college programs as Virginia basketball, Penn State and Indiana soccer, as well as for several premier international soccer clubs.  Forbes states that Pixellot “has been using artificial intelligence to quietly upend the way players and coaches watch games—and even practices.”  Pixellot is “a tool for player-improvement and coaching, a way to break down weaknesses and find ways to get better, no matter the player’s level or the sport.” 

The main focus of the Forbes article is Deni Avdija, a 6-7 Israel basketball player for Maccabi Tel Aviv, who was drafted ninth in the first round of the 2020 National Basketball Association by the Washington Wizards.  Maccabi and Avdija have been a testing ground for applying artificial intelligence to practice and game video to hone players’ techniques.

Likely, there would be some skepticism and resistance to using artificial intelligence to train racehorses and plan racing tactics. But experimentation will no doubt take place by some forward-thinking owners and trainers looking for a legal edge.  Artificial intelligence has the capacity to identify patterns that human brains often miss. 

I recall reading that prior to the 1982 Kentucky Derby, Gato Del Sol’s co-owner, Arthur Hancock III, was concerned with the colt’s number 18 post position.  Reportedly, Mr. Hancock contacted a high-school classmate who he had remembered as a math whiz to ask about the path his jockey should take out of the starting gate to give the colt the best chance to win.  Fed enough data, artificial intelligence can answer precisely this type of question.

Copyright © 2020 Horse Racing Business

CHOOSING AN ONLINE WAGERING SITE

Horse racing attracts bettors from all over the world.  Though many of them still enjoy the experience and atmosphere of actually being and betting at a racecourse, online wagering sites provide a convenient place to bet. In 2020, online sites have been the safest place–and often the only place–to bet during the Covid-19 pandemic.

While there are many benefits to placing bets online as opposed to in-person, it can be confusing to determine which betting site to patronize. Bettors, of course, have different preferences and priorities. 

Following are some of the key factors that can help one to decide which wagering site is the best choice to suit individual needs and wants.

Betting Promotions

All betting sites have welcome offers for new customers that can be claimed upon registration, and these can include free bets or a deposit bonus.

Ongoing promotions are also available for existing players, and these can be more valuable in the long run even if the sign-up offers appear more lucrative at first.  Horse racing-specific deals include money back if second, extra places, and non-runner no bet.

Best Odds Guaranteed

Whereas some betting offers can be found only with a handful of online sites, Best Odds Guaranteed is offered by the vast majority of the top betting sites on the market.  When using Best Odds Guaranteed, a winning bettor gets paid at the larger odds if a horse’s price turns out to be greater at the start of the race than when the bettor backed it.

Betting sites set a time frame during which bets qualify for Best Odds Guaranteed, often between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. on the day of the race.  In most cases, only UK and Irish races qualify.

Live Streaming

Online betting sites offer not only a platform for wagering, but most also carry live streaming from a plethora of domestic and international racecourses from various time zones. Often, the feed is slightly ahead of the television coverage so it is the way to stay up to date, especially if a bettor wants to place wagers while races are in progress.

Mobile App

Online wagering sites pay close attention to their mobile product, and they all have either a website optimized for smartphone usage or a mobile app.

For ease of use, some betting sites are better options than others for accepting mobile bets.  For example, betting apps that have Face ID and/or touch ID login allow a bettor to quickly access a website and wager.

Past Performance and Data Analytics

Horse racing betting sites typically provide past-performance data, and some take it a step further and provide analyses and insights.  This information lends context to a race and enables bettors to make informed handicapping decisions.

And, In Closing

No matter whether a bettor is seeking to find an online wagering site solely for big events like the Cheltenham Festival or intends to bet on horse racing on a regular basis, options abound.  Since signing up with a wagering site is not a major commitment—and they each may have slightly different promotions and odds—it might be worth having an account with several of them.