Bookmakers (including sponsors) ahead of the All-Weather Championships 2014 Finals Day present their views of the inaugural series:
David Williams of Ladbrokes: “The All-Weather Championships has been excellent, but this is only year one of the journey we are on. I think at the start of the season we were quite keen to manage expectations – I don’t think any of us thought it would set the Thames on fire – but what we wanted to do was create some of the narratives along the way.
“It’s going to take a bit of time to bed in and the numbers are not stellar, but they are very good and very promising. We want to be very proactive in the process about taking it in to year two and Jim (Allen) has already mentioned a lot of the things we can look forward to next year.
“The one aspect we want to work on in year two is terrestrial coverage. A £1-million raceday on a public holiday not being covered by a terrestrial broadcaster is something we don’t think is acceptable. Whether people have arguments for or against racing on Good Friday, fundamentally, it is a bank holiday and a lot of our customers want to engage with that.
“It will be great for the public to be able to bet on horseracing on Good Friday. We have always made the point that the betting shops are open and we are very much looking forward to it. We have got high expectations for Good Friday and if we can take it to that next level in year two and beyond, we really will have something to shout from the rooftops about.”
David Stevens of Coral: “The All-Weather Championships has been terrific and, although it was never going to be the answer to racing’s ills, the injection of £2 million of prize money was never going to be a bad thing.
“I’m sure all the other sponsors would join me in thanking the horsemen who have been running their horses because there are other options. You can send your horses to Dubai or abroad, but they have been running here and without the horses we have nothing.
“I’ve been a regular visitor to Lingfield and the racing is terrific. I was here when Robin Hoods Bay won the coral.co.uk Winter Derby and the joy of the family, friends and those involved was what it is all about. You would have thought they won the Derby, never mind the Winter Derby.
“In terms of the wider business, it was always an anomaly that customers could not bet on racing on Good Friday. Betting shops have been open for six or seven years (on Good Friday) now and racing is still our number one product in shops, so it was crazy there wasn’t an opportunity for customers to bet on racing on Good Friday.
“As David (Williams) has said, terrestrial coverage is something we will talk to Channel 4 about and I am sure ARC will do the same. Whatever reason it couldn’t happen this year, that’s fair enough because At The Races has been a terrific supporter, but I think prize money of this calibre deserves the wider audience terrestrial coverage provides.
“The buzz on course has been great and we will certainly notice it in shops on Good Friday. When I say British racing to bet on, it isn’t just British racing, but very good racing. I have a dream that at some point in the future a horse will do the Coral Easter Classic and Coral Eclipse double. It’s a bit too much to ask for in the first year, but hopefully it will be the double everybody is talking about in the future.”
Matthew Glazier, Head of PR at bookmakers.co.uk: “The All-Weather Championships has been fantastic for bookmakers.co.uk. It is one of several websites that myself and Andy have invested in and we have always been a sponsor of horseracing, whether it has been All-Weather or not.
“We thought the All-Weather Championships was a fantastic way of increasing exposure and we are pleased to be able to support the UK horseracing industry as well.
“It’s great to be involved and things have gone swimmingly from our end. The traffic levels have been increasing and, although we are involved in other things, the All-Weather Championships has been a vital part of the mix for us.”
Mark Quayle, head of marketing at 32Red: “It’s great to see that the All-Weather Championships have been a success. There has been a significant uplift in traffic, particularly around the Fast-Track Qualifier races that we have supported, and we are looking forward to the finale on Good Friday.”