Horse Racing

Government assault on gambling will drive punters to black market

MARCUS TOWNEND: Government assault on gambling freedom will drive punters to the black market

  • Proposals for changes to the gambling laws are at the White Paper stage 
  • Affordability checks are threatening to push serious punters to black market
  • Or drive run-of-the-mill punters to give up their hobby because of the hassle

If Sports Minister Stuart Andrew was unaware of the anger among punters about financial risk checks, as the Government likes to call them, he hopefully knows now after a meeting with the Horseracing Bettors Forum.

Following his grilling by the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, Andrew met the body which represents people who like a bet on horseracing in this country.

Proposals for changes to the gambling laws are at the White Paper stage, with protections for potential problem gamblers front and centre.

But proposed affordability checks, despite Government assurances that they will be ‘frictionless’, are threatening to push serious punters to the black market or drive run-of-the-mill punters to give up their hobby because of the hassle.

Demands to see personal bank details are too much for some, while HBF chairman Sean Trivass relates the story of one punter being asked for proof of how much his house was worth before a high street betting shop would accept his wager.

Government assure proposed affordability checks for racing punters will be ‘frictionless’

In the brief time available to the HBF with the minister, they pressed home their concerns with the results of a recently completed survey that showed 13.9 per cent of those questioned would give up betting altogether if denied the ability to bet in their usual manner, while 59.1 per cent would consider using a black-market bookmaker.

When asked if they would supply proof of income before placing a bet, 83.8 per cent said no.

While these checks are not yet law, they are already being implemented, with the Betting & Gaming Council and the Gambling Commission blaming each other.

It is a concern for Trivass that by the time the legislation — which is at least a year away — is enacted, many punters will have walked away or taken their business elsewhere.

Protection for people with potential gambling addictions is clearly needed but there is also incredulity that a Tory government, which should have civil liberties flowing through its veins, is considering telling people how to spend their money.

As one responder to the HBF survey said: ‘I work 35 hours per week, have paid off my mortgage and want to gamble as much as I like. I have earned it and paid my taxes on it.’

Another added: ‘The White Paper proposals will be a serious overstep from the Government into a hobby the vast majority of people enjoy responsibly.’

Proposals for changes to the racing gambling laws are at the White Paper stage

Billy the kid is flying… but now the hard work starts 

Billy Loughnane has made quite an impression and he landed his 95th winner on Friday at Kempton.

That means 17-year-old Billy is no longer allowed to claim his apprentice allowance a mere 11 months after taking his first ride.

He looks certain to be crowned apprentice champion this season and, with his natural ability, few would bet against him becoming a fully fledged champion in the future.

He has raced through his apprentice allowance, but he is hardly alone in recent times, as precocious talents are seized upon more than ever by trainers and owners eager to utilise their claims.

Loughnane reached 95 winners in 613 rides but recent counterparts have done it even quicker in terms of mounts, with Benoit de la Sayette taking 516 rides, Jason Watson 586 rides and Marco Ghiani 606.

All are doing OK but now sit 35th (De La Sayette), 45th (Watson) and 52nd (Ghiani) in the table for jockey wins in 2023. Life can be a lot tougher when stripped of your weight allowance.

Contrast those numbers with Ryan Moore, who many would argue is the best jockey in the world, let alone Britain, who took 963 rides to make it to 95 wins.

Few would bet against Billy Loughnane becoming a fully fledged champion in the future

It took Tom Marquand 853 rides, William Buick 755 and Hollie Doyle, who initially struggled to establish herself, 845 rides.

Doyle has said how valuable that extended learning period was for her.

Apprenticeships in racing are the same as they are in any other industry, a period of gathering experience which will hopefully give a firm foundation for the rest of one’s working life.

It is not necessarily a good thing for that learning period to be too short.

Loughnane has now been thrown into the jockey ocean without his lifebelt. He will probably swim but there are no guarantees.

Irish double puts spring in Donal’s step 

It was a fine sporting weekend for Ireland.

In racing, Auguste Rodin, Henry Longfellow and Tahiyra produced quality Group One-winning performances at the Irish Champions Festival, while in rugby the national team got their World Cup campaign rolling with an easy win over Romania.

That put a smile on the face of Donal Spring, a man with a foot in both sports.

Now a solicitor, Spring won seven caps for Ireland in the second row as well as captaining Leinster and Munster, where he was in the 1978 team who earned a shock victory over the All Blacks.

Donal Spring bred and heads the syndicate which owns Flying Five Stakes winner Moss Tucker

Spring bred and heads the syndicate which owns Moss Tucker, the five-year-old gelding which won the Group One Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.

Moss Tucker is named after two of Spring’s late team-mates — Moss Keane, who won 51 caps for Ireland and was part of the 1982 Triple Crown-winning side, and Colm Tucker, a flanker who only won two caps for his country but was selected for the 1980 Lions tour of South Africa.

Paris now beckons for Moss Tucker, whose next race will be the Group One Prix de L’Abbaye de Longchamp on the Arc card on October 1. Spring will be hoping that is a prelim to Ireland’s appearance in the World Cup final on October 28 at the Stade de France in the French capital.

Naqeeb had a lot to live up to when he entered training. His eldest brother is Hukum, winner of the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Britain’s leading hope for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, while another brother, Baaeed, was last year’s outstanding racehorse.

Given both improved as they got older, it’s fair to expect William Haggas-trained Naqeeb to do the same.

Sire Nathaniel is an influence for stamina, something that showed in Naqeeb’s win over a mile and three-quarters at Haydock on Saturday.

He is one to look forward to next season especially.

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