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Should bookies sponsor Jockeys and Trainers?

Home Forums Horse Racing Should bookies sponsor Jockeys and Trainers?

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    I think it has to be public perception that is paramount here!!

    Most of us know that pretty much all bookmakers lay trainers to get to know but it isn’t blatantly published on blogs twitter or whatever media stream you care to mention.

    The public’s perception should be uppermost in both the trainers mind and the authorities!!

    • Total Posts 4812

    Mark Souster did a piece on this topic in The Times recently (paywall, so delete if necessary).

    It was a spoof tweet posted on Twitter yesterday, but the sentiment contained pretty much sums up the feeling among many people about the plethora of trainers and jockeys who now have columns and blogs with betting organisations.

    It read: “William Hill have suspended betting on the BetVictor Fighting Fifth until we get a Betfair Blog update following Betfair Exhange movements this morning. Unibet Champion Hurdle to be affected #ad”

    According to the British Horseracing Authority with which any paid-for arrangement has to be registered, there are 23 jockeys and 18 trainers in Britain and Ireland who have deals with a cross-section of bookmakers. Guidelines are provided to trainers and riders when they enter into any commercial deals. The BHA monitors these on an ongoing basis, as well as public perception.

    Betfair has meticulous control mechanisms around its columns
    Betfair has meticulous control mechanisms around its columns
    The guidelines include areas such as market-sensitive information, scratching of non-runners, perception and the correct labelling of social media posts. These rules were brought in within the last decade.

    But in an era when perception is everything, should these columns and blogs be allowed? It is a grey area but the answer has to be no. Should the authority not instead be clamping down on this growing business, where any potentially sensitive nugget of information which could affect markets is revealed by a trainer, in the first instance, to his or her bookmaker by whom they are paid?

    At a time when the sport is making a concerted effort to wean itself, at least in part, off its reliance on betting money, and at a time when gambling companies are under the spotlight like never before, perception has to trump any other consideration. Any sense that anyone is the beneficiary or provider of so-called inside information has to be countered. It’s the only way to eliminate any spectre of collusion and thus protect the public’s perception of the sport’s integrity.

    There is of course no suggestion that any trainer or jockey, some of whom are believed to receive at least £100,000 a year for their services, nor any bookmaker, has ever acted improperly. Betfair for instance is meticulous in its control mechanisms. Any ghost writer with their stable of columnists has to sign a non-disclosure agreement which ensures that the information they glean in their conversations with jockeys and trainers cannot be acted upon until it is in the public domain via the website. “Any breach of this we consider to be a very serious offence,” Barry Orr, the company’s head of media said.

    The explosion in sponsored columns and everything associated with those deals, seems to have coincided with the advent of social media and the opportunities those mediums provide for companies in terms of marketing and branding. One photograph of a winning jockey at a big meeting with the appropriate branding prominent on their silks can be worth the cost of the annual contract on its own. Also anything which can help drive traffic to a bookmaker’s website and hopefully ensure punters bet more and linger longer there, is considered sound business.

    For the jockey and trainer the rewards provide a valuable additional income stream, but in truth only those already established and well known — who therefore have something worthwhile to say — will get those opportunities.

    A distinction also has to be drawn between jockeys and trainers and whether they should be treated largely in the same way. The jockeys are the employees who essentially provide their opinion on their mounts. It is the trainers who are the big decision-makers and who are privy to knowledge which could be considered really valuable.

    Whether the rules have to accommodate for such a distinction is another question that perhaps needs to be asked. That could be a compromise worth considering.

    • Total Posts 2937

    Should never have been allowed, this. The BHA have a lot to answer for.

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