Archives for February 2018

ONE MONTH TO THE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL

A sure sign of impending Spring in the United Kingdom is building anticipation among horse racing fans of The Cheltenham Festival, held this year on March 13-17.  The Jockey Club-owned Cheltenham Racecourse is situated with the picturesque Cotswolds Hills in the background.  Cheltenham is located about 88 miles from London.

The Cheltenham Festival is, depending on one’s perspective, either a five-day meet of the world’s best jump racing or a social gathering of over a quarter million people that offers blue-ribbon corporate sponsors the opportunity to reach coveted demographic groups.

The Festival cards 28 jump races with £4.5 in purses for spectators to watch and bet on.  The feature of the entire Festival is the Cheltenham Gold Cup, contested on the final day.  The Gold Cup is one of the two most prestigious jump races in the world, along with the Grand National.  This Group 1 National Hunt race dates back to 1819; it is run over 22 jumps spread out over 3 miles and ½ furlongs, and usually has over 35 entries.

The current favorite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, at 7/2 odds, is the Nicky Henderson-trained 9-year-old Mite Bite.  Mite Bite, winner of nine of 14 lifetime starts, won the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day, 2017.  The next best-liked horse for the Gold Cup at 6/1 odds is the 2017 winner Sizing John, who was a badly beaten seventh place in his last start in December 2017.  Many of the possible entries are horses capable of winning at double-digit odds.

Besides the Cheltenham Gold Cup, virtually every one of the other 27 races provides bettors with handicapping challenges and opportunities.  Jump races at Cheltenham attract lots of betting handle because the fields are full of highly rated horses.  Moreover, one misstep or rider error in a jump race and a chalk is out of contention.

All 28 Cheltenham races can be wagered on at one or more of the many online sites identified at the brand-new bettingsites.ltd.uk.  This website of websites provides an array of information, including the top 10 betting sites in the United Kingdom, new sites for betting on sports, and customers’ favorite betting sites.

Copyright © 2018 Horse Racing Business

RACING PROMOTED AS ENTERTAINMENT OR GAMBLING?

A South Florida lifestyle magazine in January 2018 carried an advertisement for the then-upcoming Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park that read in part:

“Giddy Up

It’s a Party.  With a Racetrack.  And you’re invited.”

On the national telecast of the race, Belinda Stronach, chairwoman and president of the Stronach Group, which owns Gulfstream Park, explained to the audience that the intent with the Peagsus World Cup is to promote horse racing by “wrapping an entertainment experience around the on-track experience.”

She went on to say that although horse racing/wagering is the “core” product, the Pegasus World Cup is intended to appeal to non-racing fans by emphasizing an opportunity for having an enjoyable time.

Horse racing per se is supported by a comparatively small percentage of all bettors, who wager the vast majority of the money bet.  The future of horse racing depends on enough prolific bettors like them coming into the game in the years ahead.  To this end, the view here is that the Stronach Group is on target with its strategy to promote the Pegasus World Cup to the general public as entertainment rather than gambling.

Whereas the sport’s current large-scale bettors respond to rebates, pick 6 carryovers, takeout rates, and other such monetary incentives, the non-racing fan and the $2 player care more about horse racing as entertainment.

A large portion of the people who attend the Triple Crown events, and the annual seasons at Del Mar, Keeneland, and Saratoga, may not frequent another racetrack all year.  However, some small but unknown percentage of the people who attend–and who are new to racing–will develop an interest and turn into steady bettors.  Some will even become so enamored that they will take part in handicap contests and follow and wager on horse racing on a year-around basis.

For highly select events, like those mentioned above, “wrapping an entertainment experience around the on-track experience” is a logical strategy for cultivating racing’s potential customers of tomorrow.  However, the entertainment approach would be ludicrous for, say, promoting Aqueduct on frigid winter days with sparse crowds at the racetrack.  That takes a gambling-focused appeal.

Copyright © 2018 HorseRacingBusiness

TWO HORSES OF THE YEAR?

If we needed confirmation that Horse of the Year is a highly subjective award, look no further than what transpired in January 2018.  Which Horse of the Year is the relevant question?

CNN reported on January 23, 2018:

“He may have retired from racing, but that hasn’t stopped Arrogate scooping up more silverware.

The American colt was named as the Longines World’s Best Racehorse for a second year in a row at a lavish awards ceremony in London’s Claridge’s hotel Tuesday.”

Two days later, on January 25, Teresa Genaro wrote in Forbes online:

“In a year in which Triple Crown race winners took a backseat to older horses, Gun Runner was the expected, and worthy, recipient of the 2017 Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year.  He ran in six races and won five of them, finishing second in the Dubai World Cup, earning nearly $7 million.”

An outsider to horse racing, or an insider for that matter, would surely wonder how Arrogate could simultaneously be the “World’s Best Racehorse” yet not judged to be the superior racehorse in the United States, especially since he beat Gun Runner in two of the three career races in which they ran against one another and split with Gun Runner 50/50 in 2017.  Further, Arrogate earned the most money of any racehorse in history, $17.42 million, of which $13.2 million came in 2017.

Anytime relative merit is determined by opinion, there will likely be disparity of outcome.  This holds for Olympic figure skating, talent contests, horse-racing awards, voting for inclusion in various sports hall of fames, and other “in-the-eye-of-the beholder” endeavors.  Should Pete Rose or steroid-aided home-run sluggers be in the MLB Hall of Fame? are recurring questions debated on sports-talk shows.

In the end for Arrogate and Gun Runner, it does not make a great deal of difference that their owners can truthfully advertise in stallion listings that one was deemed to be the “World’s Best Racehorse” in 2017 and the other was the Eclipse champion in 2017.  What matters now is which one sires the best racehorses and justifies a higher stud fee.

Copyright © 2018 Horse Racing Business