Bookies the biggest losers as action freezes

Despite those running the racecourse Ffos Las clinging to the faint hope that the Welsh track may stage some sport on Saturday, the bookmakers William Hill believe that it's odds-on the next jump racing in Britain will not take place until a week later. The meeting at Kempton on 16 January is 4-5 favourite to resume the traditional winter game.

Over the last few weeks, fans and professionals have had to make do increasingly with low-grade Flat fare on an artificial surface and yesterday even that so-called "all-weather" racing failed to beat the snow.

An outdoor sport in the middle of winter can and does expect weather-related hold-ups. A prolonged break would be a concern but a freeze on the action of a couple of weeks is primarily a matter of deep frustration. Trainers have yards full of thwarted equine athletes, jockeys miss their riding fees, owners miss their fun. Racecourses don't have customers. But financially, it is bookmakers who miss out most, though probably garner least sympathy. "When it snows, we suffer," said Ladbrokes' David Williams. "There are alternatives for punters, but racing is the heartbeat of our business and 2009 ended on such a high, with Kauto Star and the other big names generating great narratives. But in 2010 that great run has stopped dead. It's frustrating to the point of being annoying."

A lost high-profile Saturday meeting costs the betting industry something like £1m, with a knock-on loss to the Levy that provides racing industry funding. Before Christmas, Ascot lost a prestige meeting that offered some £400,000 prize-money and would have attracted more than 20,000 racegoers. "It would have been profitable," said the course's Nick Smith, "but though losing it was not good, it wasn't a killer. Most courses budget for the likelihood of losing a couple of meetings in the winter. It's frustrating more than anything."

For the South Wales trainer Evan Williams that factor is top of the scale. "Ten out of 10," he said. "I've got horses here who need to be running as part of their programme, particularly the novices, who need to get experience, and then the double whammy will be that when the weather does break there'll be so many wanting to run there'll be ballotings out.

"But on a day-to-day basis we cope. There's extra work, getting the yard and walkways gritted. But we can keep the horses moving, we've got an all-weather strip and lunging rings and walkers. If the snow is deep enough we can get round the fields. And we're lucky enough to be able to get to the beach, which is actually a bonus as it's a change of routine and the riders and horses both enjoy it."

Cancelled racing

Mon Lingfield, Wetherby.

Tues Leicester, Taunton.

Wed Hexham, Kempton, Lingfield, Southwell.

Thurs Huntingdon, Ludlow.

Fri Bangor, Fontwell.

Sat Sedgefield, Wincanton.

Sun Hereford.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Advisor - £35,000 OTE

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Advisor is required to ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor / Contact Centre Advisor

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As the UK's leading accident an...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Recruitment Genius: Web Hosting Support Agent

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the North West's leading web hosting pr...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003