28 March 2006

TVN deals hit TABCORP for six

TVN, the racing broadcaster in Australia owned by the country's major raceclubs has moved into dealmaking overdrive, as Breeding&Racing sums up:
TVN "is negotiating with Telstra to ink a broader 'new media' rights deal worth up to $10 million a year, which would enable punters to place bets & watch Sydney & Melbourne races on their mobile phones". The paper revealed "TVN chief executive Peter Sweeney met Telstra executives in Sydney yesterday after the TVN board unanimously recommended that shareholders accept an offer by James Packer's Publishing & Broadcasting to take up a 25% stake for $25 million". Telstra's Big Pond has shown Sydney & Melbourne races since 2004, but "sources said yesterday a much broader, bigger relationship is on the table. The potential of putting together, in a mobile package, race vision with the ability to make considered bets is huge." (Mar 28)

27 March 2006

Racing rights intrigue

Craig Young in the Sydney Morning Herald has been well-briefed on a move by the Packer camp to buy into the premium TVN racing vision channel for a reputed AUD40 million for a 50 per cent stake. The bid seems cheap for the rights to an intellectual property regime that will accrue hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue in coming years once interactive gambling and digital television consummate their love match with the mooted approval of the Howard Government. As is customary with Packer family deals, you can bet London to a brick that with a 50 per cent stake in the Australian licence of Betfair, the synergies are much more attractive for PBL than the major metropolitan raceclubs that own TVN. Although simple swap of stakes - 50-50 TVN for Betfair could be the dealbreaker that will bring the raceclubs on board. In NSW, at least, the Australian Jockey Club and Sydney Turf Club wouldn't be in this mess if they'd negotiated a stake in the NSW TAB when it was privatised back in the mid 1990s. Buying into a new and emerging interactive betting platform like Betfair makes sense.

Frankie energises Dubai faithful

The outstanding win of Godolphin's Electrocutionist reduced the prizemoney bill for the al Maktoum's in their Dubai World Cup yesterday - a moment that, in the wake of Sheikh Maktoum's death in January and the Dubai Ports World controversy in the US, led to emotional scenes at Nad al Sheba:
"The feelings of the crowd were typified by a very large man, apparently of Sudanese origin, who, almost in tears, leaned over the fence of the official enclosure waving a United Arab Emirates flag shouting: 'We love you Frankie!'"
No doubt tears of joy also flowed freely from those canny punters who ignored the mock Goldolphin put out before the race and backed Electrocutionist off the map with English bookmakers.

23 March 2006

Electrocutionist draws death row

Says The Sun with remarkable restraint:
have been dealt a cruel blow over Electrocutionist, evens favourite for Saturday’s Dubai World Cup. Electrocutionist has been drawn one and racing manager Simon Crisford said: "He will not be able to avoid the kick-back."
Kick-backs are always hard to avoid.

Cheltenham carnage sparks flurry

Eddie Freemantle sums up nicely in The Guardian:
"The nine horses who lost their lives over the four days were so much less fortunate. Bayard, No Where To Hyde, Holy Orders, Sh Boom, Basilea Star, Millenaire, Mr Babbage, Olaso and Buck Whaley were all good horses, all winners. They enjoyed good lives, with the best food and the best care but this can be an unforgiving sport. Nobody can say that the huge fields and breakneck pace of races at Cheltenham do not lead to equine deaths on occasions. There were, thankfully, no deaths in Cheltenham's other eight meetings this season but there were an average of 12 runners per race at those against 20 per race at the Festival and that begs the question: Can you have too much of a good thing?"

As is to be expected, the Jockey Club says no, in the personage of Peter Webbon, Director of Veterinary Science and Welfare , in a statement entitled the "CHELTENHAM FATALITIES":
“We are deeply upset by the fatalities at this year’s Cheltenham Festival and our sympathies go out to the connections of those horses which have been fatally injured.
“We monitor injuries and fatalities on an ongoing basis as a matter of routine and, from a veterinary and welfare point of view, we always review the major racing festivals and the high number of fatal injuries at Cheltenham this year will be subject to particularly close inspection.
“As part of this review, we will sit down with the Cheltenham executive and our welfare partners, the RSPCA and International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH) to discuss any lessons to be learned or action to be taken.”

Expect a flurry of inactivity.

Soft in the head?

Lucid analysis here of why Betfair's recent announcement that Japan's Softbank is to take a 23 per cent stake in the betting exchange operator raises questions despite the enormity of the Japanese betting market:
"I don't believe that betfair has a future as a brand/product for mainstream punters, and would do better to co-opt betdaq's period strategy (as later co-opted by betdaq partner betandwin) to be a bookie behind-the-scenes trading platform that skilled punters themselves can go directly use if they're up to it. All of this begs the question of "what do betfair strategists and SoftBank know that us yokels don't". On the surface, the price paid by SB is nuts."
According to Legal Week, Softbank's "£13-a-share offer is thought to represent a return of 130-times capital to ground-level investors" in Betfair.

18 March 2006

Cheltenham Carnage

Animal Aid has called for...
"the resignation of Cheltenham's Managing Director, Edward Gillespie, following a catastrophic four days at the racecourse. The first two days of the festival each claimed one life. On Thursday, six horses perished - three in one race. Then another horse died during Friday's racing. This brings to nine the total number of equine casualties of the 2006 Cheltenham festival."

10 March 2006

Calamity Jane rides again

The Daily Telegraph details the latest cock-up of the raceday Judge now known throughout the game as "Calamity Jane":
Judge Jane Stickels called the wrong result at Lingfield Park yesterday, causing mayhem and costing the betting industry an estimated £7 million as many bookmakers found themselves obliged to pay out on two 'winners' in the same race.

UPDATE: The Times reports briefly that Stickels "has been stood down while the Jockey Club carries out an internal inquiry. Bookmakers claim Stickels cost the industry £2 million after mistakenly naming Welsh Dragon, the favourite, as the winner."

05 March 2006

Clooney's big play

George Clooney to Donate Future Casino Profits to Africa's Poor
George Clooney to Donate Future Casino Profits to Africa's Poor
19 February 2006

Famous actor George Clooney recently announced plans to donate as much as a quarter of his future casino profits to the poor in Africa. The 44-year-old Oscar-nominee is currently in the first stages of developing Las Ramblas, a colossal Barcelona-inspired $4 billion hotel and casino complex in Las Vegas. The project is scheduled for completion in the beginning of 2008.

Clooney was reported as saying that the future gaming venue will require a formal dress code, unlike the informal, relaxed dress codes of other local casinos. Clooney also said that he was inspired by his childhood, when he used to watch his aunt, singer Rosemary Clooney, perform in Las Vegas casinos that required visitors to wear jackets.

Las Ramblas, slated for construction just off the Las Vegas Strip, will spread over 11 hectares and feature 11 towers, including a five-star hotel, condos, and bungalows. The future complex will also feature a spa and a health club, several restaurants, a shopping center, and a casino. In addition, the casino facility will have an open-air pedestrian promenade modeled after Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain.
Source: Big OC News Staff

03 March 2006

Crypton capers continue

More fun and games in ol' Blighty as another saddle-sitter bites the dust in the ongoing saga over the City of London police probe into race fixing in the UK:

"Police have arrested another jockey as part of their investigations into allegations of race-fixing. The jockey was arrested in Cumbria on Thursday morning on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud, a statement from the City of London Police confirmed."

The bobbies have been looking rather busy:
"Twenty-seven people remain on police bail to July 3 in connection with the inquiry... The police inquiry has been looking at more than 80 races and more than 130 officers have worked on the case. At least 19 addresses have been raided."

The Police probe – codenamed Operation Crypton – is Britain’s largest ever horse racing corruption investigation. It has been hanging over racing for two years but any decision on charges will be delayed until at least the summer.
The operation arose out of betting irregularities noticed by Betfair, which has both supporters and detractors of the service claiming the sting supports their position. While Ireland Online accentuates the negative:

"It is claimed that the system opens up the possibility that an unscrupulous jockey on a highly fancied mount could be paid to lose and a gambler 'laying' the horse on Betfair would win."

Others show the fact that the arrests arose out of monitoring Betfair players only proves the systems transparency.

02 March 2006

Destination: Cheltenham

The Trib has been running a rather fascinating series by Gina Rarick, following one nag on its long road to a start at Cheltenham this month:
"Every year in mid-March, Cheltenham Racecourse, nestled in the hills of Western England, draws the best steeplechasers in the world to its four-day National Hunt Festival. The two biggest races of the Festival, the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Gold Cup, are the apex of the sport. This is the inside story of one horse's road to the top"

28 February 2006

Out on a limb

Senior Irish Turf Club Steward Pierce Molony knows who his master is:
"The punter is the one who generates the revenue stream and it is from that stream that everything else flows: prize money, racecourse development, the desire for breeders to produce the right horses and the desire of people to have horses in training."

19 February 2006

"You are a f- - -ing c - -t..."

Craig Young is always entertaining: "Chief steward Ray Murrihy then asked what exact words were used. Irvine replied: 'You are a f- - -ing c - -t and I don't have to' [reveal the names of those who had backed the horse]. But the bookmaker did anyway.

"Irvine alleged Noonan threatened him and recalled asking the bagman, 'What? Have someone beat me?' To which the punter claimed the bookmaker replied: 'No. I'll do worse than that.'"

16 February 2006

Pincay, Santa Anita stay out of court

"Laffit Pincay, the world's winningest rider with 9,530 victories, has "settled a lawsuit with Santa Anita regarding the spill that ended his career nearly three years ago.