TRACK Price Plus, the largest bookmakers in the land, has made a welcomed return to the world of horse racing sponsorship.
This is indeed timely as Caymanas Track Limited (CTL) is clearly suffering from a lack of corporate involvement in sponsorship at this time. God knows they need all they can get, as sponsorship is at an all-time low. The 'Dig Out' promotion is applauded and one can only hope that it receives the traction necessary from trainers and owners for it to be a success.
The bookmaking entity has publicly aired its disquiet with racing, with the issue of the amount of money to be paid for rights fees to CTL always the source of its discomfort and contention. While this issue will continue to linger, the new faces at Track Price have taken a very bold step in easing tension by sponsoring the innovative 'Dig Out' promotion. One can hope that in the future the contending entities will reach quick and amicable settlements for the long-term benefit of the industry.
This writer has never been one which accepted the conduct of bookmaking as practised in Jamaica. It bears no resemblance to what is considered and accepted as 'keeping a book' in England for example. Maybe, just maybe, it is time for the bold new faces at Track Price and the rest of the bookmaking companies to consider reinventing themselves with the aim of doing more business and eventually more profit.
The bookmakers here have widened the scope of their offerings by introducing betting options on different sports. One can now bet mainly at fixed odds on a variety of sporting activities. Really good move, but racing still remains the bookmaker's main source of income. It would be a move in the right direction if racing choices are also increased to the betting public. Let's explore some of the options:
1. At the end of each racing year after the two-year-old races are completed, bookmakers should offer what is referred to as 'winter book' betting. This is where fixed odds are offered from as early as January on horses to win the five three-year-old Classic races. Whatever the actual odds on the Classic racedays, the bookmakers pay to those purchasing in January, February and March, for example, the designated odds when the bets were purchased and not raceday odds.
2. Final programme for a Saturday race meeting is usually available to bookmakers by Thursday afternoon. It would be interesting to offer fixed odds on all races and all horses for purchase on Fridays and Saturdays before the start of the raceday. Punters must, however, be given the choice of buying actual raceday odds if they so desire, which would be stipulated on their paper bets.
3. The diversity of racing bets maybe enhanced with the introduction of a (for want of a better phrase) a 'Devil takes the hind most' wager. Simply take bets from punters on which horse will finish last. Whatever the name given to the bet it may add a new dimension to the betting product. Is it a flight of fantasy to image a last two quinella?
This writer is in no way suggesting that the three options given represent the solutions to all the betting malaise currently afflicting bookmakers, punters and CTL. They merely represent thoughts to possibly boost spending and interest in a flagging product which always require a new look and invigoration to attract increased betting.
Food for thought.