How Do You Solve A Problem Like Horse Racing?


Let’s face it, there’s a huge pink elephant sitting in a room full of Betfair traders and nobody seems to be mentioning it, even though it’s the largest elephant ever seen, it’s pink and it has a huge crown of flashing jewels and lights and ears as large as the Pacific Ocean.

The problem with trading on horse racing on Betfair, in my humble opinion, is, it is demonstratively and undeniably corrupt; there I said it.

Notice all you legal beagles out there that the above statement is a personally held opinion and therefore I cannot be held legally accountable for that or any other statements made in this article or website.

As far as I can see because the main protagonists can't talk, horse racing has always been open for corruption, but with the invention of Betfair the corruption opportunities burst forth a million fold. 

Before the days of Betfair when we poor sucker punters had no other choice but to put our wagers down with licensed bookmakers (why are they called bookmakers by the way?) the architecture of corruption was completely different. 

Back in the day if you wanted to fix a race; drugs and blood doping was the method of choice, you used those drugs to either speed up or slow down a horse. You sped up a horse to give it an advantage over the other runners.

Slowing down a horse was all about the long con, you would slow down a horse in order to give it a reputation for being a bad to average runner, then when the big race came along you’d enter it and would be given much longer odds than if you’d shown everybody that the horse did in fact run like greased lightning.

Or of course you could do the reverse of that by doping a favourite just after it has attracted a record amount of money being bet on it, in that scenario you’d be very happy indeed to see the favourite lollop home in fifth if you were a bookie or syndicate of bookies who stood to lose a huge amount.

 Apparently horses run better with their heads still attached to their bodies

Apparently horses run better with their heads still attached to their bodies

I’m guessing that speeding up horses was always more profitable than slowing them down, the desired effect of increased odds on a slowed down horse may take weeks or months to take effect and then it’s a one hit wonder as the bookmakers realise they’ve been duped and the odds on that horse from then on are meaner than a Scottish accountant.

If you could get away with it then speeding up a horse, time and again would have seen you reigning in instant profits; but that was the problem, getting caught was the risk and I’d imagine there was an elaborate cat and mouse game played out between the dopers and the arbitrators of the sport.

Then came Betfair, suddenly you could lay a horse, suddenly you could win big by calling the loser, far, far easier than calling a winner right? Right, and far easier to make a horse lose undetected than it is to get a horse to win without getting caught.

You see in horse racing, there are these plucky little fellas that sit atop of the equine beasts, called jockeys, if you get to a jockey you can get him or her to slow the horse down in a virtually undetectable manner.

Some years ago Kieran Fallon became the latest sting victim of the Fake Sheik Bin News Of The World. Fallon unwittingly revealed to the News Of The World that he would throw races for money, he also hinted at knowing which horse would win which race and even which horse would place where by suggesting to the men a certain horse would  place 2nd in a race the next day; the horse placed 2nd by the way

  Kieron Fallon, fallen Champion Jockey

Kieron Fallon, fallen Champion Jockey

During Fallon’s trial for corruption they showed evidence which the prosecution believed proved that Fallon had slowed a horse on at least one occasion and was so ahead in a race he was supposed to lose, jumped off his mount! The champion jockey later claimed that he fell off, even though the hose was running on smooth, flat ground and had not changed stride.

Remarkably the judge claimed that there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute Fallon, though if admitting that you’re dodgy on hidden camera doesn't constitute as evidence, then I don’t know if evidence even exists as a concept.

The point is Fallon was a champion jockey and admitted that he was prepared to take money after saying he would throw a race, regardless of the size and/or importance of that race. I believe his defence was something along the lines of; "I was only joking." Hmm, remind me to try that one next time I'm in court.

It has been my long held belief that apart from the sport’s blue ribband events, like the Grand National, Cheltenham, the Epsom Derby and the like, most horse races in this country, are fixed to some degree or another.

Of course as my legal disclaimer state’s above, I can’t prove any of that and I'm stating it as an opinion based on circumstantial evidence, nor would I want to try and prove it as    I'm sure the industry would squash me like a little fly. 

Nonetheless, when it is proven, corruption in horse racing does effect me as a trader on Betfair, after all, if I'm trading on a fixed race then it is me and all my peers; or at least the ones who aren't in on the fix, who are being defrauded.

So what does that mean to me and anyone else who wants to trade horses on Betfair? Well for me at least it mean’s that I can’t actually bring myself to trade on them, I follow some supposedly profitable tipsters on Twitter and now and again I check their picks against results, but I just can’t bring myself to bet on something I feel to be corrupt.

  Jo-key fight, jo-key fight!

Jo-key fight, jo-key fight!

At least that is, I can’t bring myself to bet on an actual race, because ultimately it is the outcome of the race that could be being fixed and I don’t want to trade on a fixed race unless I’m in on the fix, which of course, I never will be.

One thing I have found to be less susceptible to the attacks of corruption the sport suffers on a daily basis and that is cold trading. Cold trading is whereby you trade in the market before the actual race has taken place.

The idea is that you either back or lay a selection before the race starts and then complete any and all trades on that selection before the starter’s gun goes off. This method isn’t entirely corruption proof, because if a large amount of money suddenly goes onto an unfacied outsider that will affect the odds.

However these days Betfair’s algorithims, along with its human spotters are always on the lookout for unusual betting patterns, This I imagine has the fraudsters and cheats trying to place bets in a much more plausible manner and on bigger races where there’s more money being traded. So the outcome of the race may still be corrupted but the action betting beforehand won't be suspicious.

So for example the favourite, Fallon’s Folly is running in the 2 p.m. at Haydock, so at 1:45 p.m. you login to Betfair, find the 2 p.m. race at Haydock and lay Fallon’s Folly (this is a horse that like’s to lose) now what hopefully happens is that due to market forces, insider information and other unseen influences the odds on Fallon’s Folly will start to rise.

As the odds on Fallon’s Folly rise your opportunity to trade for a profit, seeing as you laid the horse, increase, hopefully you jump out at the right time before the odds start to fall again and you make the difference between your original lay and subsequent back.

Like I said, I'm not saying that the alleged ripples of corruption don’t lap over cold trading and have some effect on it, but because of its nature you won’t get stung too badly and it is very easy to put stop losses in place so that you’re losses are minimal.

Cold trading probably isn't for you if you’re an absolute novice Betfair trader, but if you've been around for a little while and you’re aware what a Betfair trading bot is, then give it a go, you will need the trading bot, but you can download a free trial of whatever bot grab’s you and then try and cold trade with some pretend money while you get the hang of it.

You can find out more in my article on cold trading by clicking the link or here.

What do you think about trading horses on Betfair? Do you believe you’re playing against loaded dice or don’t you think it matter’s if you are? Tell me about it in the comments section, I would love to hear your opinions, maybe you think I'm totally off the mark or spot on, it doesn't matter, let’s hear your opinions.

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The Zen Trader