Horse racing has never been quick to adapt to change but trainers and online bookmakers are banding together to drag some aspects of the sport into the 21st century.
Traditional trade newspapers thankfully still have their place and the Internet has given us a plethora of news sites of varying quality but nothing delivers comprehensive coverage, straight from the stable doors and gallops, like the trainer’s blogs now being written in association with resourceful online bookmakers.
Indeed a number of these are already providing us with the ultimate guide on how to best use your Cheltenham free bets along with their free tips. Never before have we had an insight into the well-being of all the horses, be it a champion or an exposed handicapper, in the care of the leading National Hunt trainers in the UK and Ireland.
Gordon Elliott, Paul Nicholls, Nicky Henderson and Jessica Harrington are amongst the names you are sure to see alongside Cheltenham Festival winners each and every year and online sportsbooks have taken up this quartet’s services acutely aware how their unique inside line can attract new customers and will court old ones.
These magazine newspaper hybrids have become essential reading for enthusiasts, professional punters and diligent odds compilers alike. For professional gamblers these and other trainer or jockey blogs have become a platform for making money, used in a way akin to the news feeds favoured by stock market day traders at the turn of the century.
Simple throw away comments from trainers can often be turned into money making opportunities by clued-up punters who constantly monitor trainers Blogs and Twitter feeds in the hope of cashing-in on news of an injured or sick horse who has been ruled out of the Cheltenham Festival, or confirmation of an intended target race when a horse had several options open to them.
And it is the new age betting landscape which has given stay-at-home punters the opportunity to make a living. It was only the 1990’s when betting shops and telephone betting lines (if you had an account) were the only ways to bet and then you were restricted to 10am to 5pm opening times too!
Nowadays you can receive news and act on it within seconds any time day or night. And it is not just conventional bookmakers that will accommodate your betting needs. Betting exchanges and spread betting firms have given us ways to oppose a single horse as opposed to back it (or its rivals).
A flood of money obviously raises some automated red flags but generally it is rarely before 10am (or 9am local time), in the trading room of an offshore Gibraltar-based online bookmaker, that odds compilers fully pick up on a lot of vital news.
There’s no such thing as a certainty in racing!
Of course nothing is infallible and in 2010 when Nicky Henderson announced his horse, Binocular, would skip the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, quick fingered eagle-eyed online players were quick to lay the horse to lose the race at all prices out to 999/1.
In an amazing turnaround in fortunes an injury to the horse was detected, successfully treated and he lined up on race day sent off as a 9/1 shot. He was to win like an odds-on shot in imperious fashion leaving a number of keyboard clicking fingers burnt to the proverbial crisp.
Remarkably this was not the first time a horse who had drifted out to 999/1 on the betting exchange, Betfair, had raced and won at the Cheltenham Festival after connections had declared their horse would not race. 2005 Gold Cup winner Kicking King, who went off at 4/1, was also backed and laid (for £94) at 999/1.