Dip into US tote pool pays off for punters

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The Independent Online

British punters who backed Europe's winners at the Breeders' Cup in New York on Saturday lost out considerably if they neglected to insist upon American pari-mutuel odds when staking their bets.

British punters who backed Europe's winners at the Breeders' Cup in New York on Saturday lost out considerably if they neglected to insist upon American pari-mutuel odds when staking their bets.

Failure to specify tote prices meant punters were automatically landed with "UK industry odds" – considerably worse in all three cases compared to those enjoyed by American backers.

The French-trained Banks Hill, winner of the Fillies & Mares race, paid just 11-4 on "UK starting prices" – but 6-1 in America. Ireland's Johannesburg won the Juvenile at 6-1 according to "UK SPs" – but at 7.2-1 in America.

Fantastic Light, Frankie Dettori's popular winner in the Breeders' Cup Turf, paid just evens with "UK SPs" – but better than 11-8 in America.

Britain and the United States may be seen to be standing shoulder-to-shoulder in some respects, but in the betting market on Saturday their country's punters risked being a world apart.

The opportunity to take American odds was, to be fair, widely advertised by British bookmakers. And, of course, these firms had very different liabilities to the US tote pools, where Europe's runners were relatively unpopular.

In fact, in four of the eight races at the Breeders' Cup, the UK shows and starting prices – which were compiled under the auspices of Satellite Information Services (SIS) – were better than the American ones. These four races were won by American horses.

Many British punters clearly took the US option when backing the Irish and French-trained winners, according to Jeremy Scott, a spokesman for Britain's Tote Bookmakers, yesterday.

"We were hit very heavily by punters backing the European horses at American odds. Banks Hill and Johannesburg were big losers for us," Scott said. "If Frankie had won the Classic on Sakhee it would have been disastrous. The home-trained winner, Tiznow, did us a huge favour."

British bookmakers' losses in certain races would have been even heavier had British punters been able to place bets in the American Exacta pools. This, however, was a definite no-go area in the UK.

Ladbrokes stated in their advertising on Saturday morning that forecast bets would be restricted to computer forecast dividends based on "the last Industry show before the off". The firm added: "Forecast betting is not available at PMU (US Tote). Any bet accepted in error will be settled at the Industry declared dividend."

Other major bookmakers in Britain enforced a similar ruling, including the Tote. In the Breeders' Cup Turf, in which Fantastic Light beat the Irish-trained Milan, the UK computer forecast paid only £7.55 (£1 stake). The American Exacta dividend, for a $2 dollar stake, paid $33.60.

Celibate in the pink

Celibate kept up his family's winning streak when successful in the Grade Two Barbara King Memorial Desert Orchid Chase at Wincanton yesterday. After the victory, the 10-year-old's trainer, Charlie Mann, pointed out that Celibate is a first cousin to Tiznow, who won the Breeders' Cup Classic on Saturday.

Mann said his charge would now be aimed at the Thomas Pink Gold Cup at Cheltenham on 17 November. Celibate jumped superbly for his jockey, Noel Fehily, before staying on dourly from the last fence to get the better of Eau De Cologne by three-quarters of a length with Bellator only a further half length back in third.

Mann said: "This is his 13th victory and he's now won almost a quarter of a million pounds in prize money. If all goes well for him his long term target for the season will be the Racing Post Chase."

Cenkos, the well-supported 11-10 favourite, was a major disappointment finishing a distant fourth, beaten another 18 lengths. He made a bad error six out and was never a factor afterwards.

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