Twitter Q & A

Via its twitter account and the hashtag #HBFQA, HBF recently hosted a Q&A for the general public. Here are those questions, and answers, in full.

 

HBF writes:

Such a directive would require legislation, and neither BHA nor HBF is empowered in that way. The Gambling Commission, which might be, is not minded to do so, though HBF continues in dialogue with GC about this and other matters. Nonetheless, HBF is seeking to define what it sees as good practice in this area and hopes to get backing to encourage bookmakers that adopting reasonable guidelines will be to their benefit and not just punters’.

 

HBF writes:

Racecourses are commercial entities that will pay the consequences if they misjudge such matters. With racecourse attendances still high, and remarkably few tracks having closed in recent decades, they might well disagree with your analysis. HBF cannot dictate to them. Nonetheless, the race-day experience is a valuable shop window for the sport and HBF would like to see easier access to information (WiFi, replays, results, announcements, seeing the horses before the race, interviews with racing professionals) and continued vigilance to ensure betting markets do not exploit the novice and the seasoned racegoer alike. One way this may be best achieved is through greater co-operation between racecourses. Last year’s industry updates suggests this is happening.

 

HBF writes:

HBF has suggested a pilot project in this area – believing that wholesale implementation at one go would encounter logistical problems and no small amount of opposition – such as in Group races or selected AW races. More widely, it is necessary to distinguish between dead weight and live weight, as the latter can occur in tandem with increased strength or other athletic enhancements. HBF sees this issue as meaningful, but it is down its list of priorities, including having taken soundings from a section of the betting public.

 

HBF writes:

HBF takes on issues it sees as clearly important without necessarily waiting for public feedback. Otherwise, though, it responds to concerns raised with it directly, by the public and from within the industry. HBF seeks to represent all punters. There are many, many more recreational than “professional” punters but it is important that betting on the sport remains aspirational and that those who seek to bet profitably (nearly all of us?!) are not short-changed. HBF made a positional statement with relevance to this on its website http://ukhbf.org/hbf-positional-statements/ recently.

 

HBF writes:

Racing also measures in yards/furlongs for overall race distances but calculates rail movements in metres then converts them back into yards (!). HBF continues to apply pressure to increase accuracy, relevance and timeliness of data, including in terminology used.

 

HBF writes:

Some. HBF has discussed the first two with a small number of “friendly” bookies and drawn an example of the last-named to the attention of the Information Commissioner’s Office via the Gambling Commission. Some bookies seem to understand that blunt restrictions with inadequate explanation may seem expedient in short-term but could well have harmful consequences for all longer-term. We continue to lobby in this area.

 

HBF writes:

HBF has had no dealings with the Horserace Betting Levy Board, which is soon to discontinue. Prior to the creation of the HBF, the future Chair asked the HBLB that funding be made available into horseracing betting behaviour (what drives good and bad participation) but was told that was outside the HBLB’s remit. When it becomes clear who holds the purse strings, HBF may well be minded to push for research in a number of areas, of which best practice in watering could be one. HBF’s Chair raised issues with watering at a recent Going-Stick Working Party meeting but has heard no more of the matter since other than that the Working party’s scope will expand.

 

HBF writes:

A hypothetical question, as Exchanges are legal, here to stay and in Betfair’s case have, unlike some of their more conventional bookmaking rivals, regularly paid back into the sport. In addition to what some see as problems with them, Exchanges have appealed to a new type of punter and increased the interest of many existing ones.

 

HBF writes:

Sadly, HBF has made little progress in this area. The Forum has no statutory powers and can only seek to influence through dialogue and providing evidence. That is very difficult to do when some bookmakers refuse to engage with us. Nonetheless, HBF has put this suggestion to those bookmakers who HAVE engaged and have been encouraged by the response. If this is to happen more widely then it will be a long road, but HBF is committed to trying to bring improvements in this and other areas all the same.

 

HBF writes:

Little at present. Pretty much every group within horseracing believes it has a short-term interest in more racing or at least in preserving the status quo. HBF has made its views – similar to yours – clear in a positional statement on its website (http://ukhbf.org/) and in person to the BHA.

 

HBF writes:

HBF is not involved as a body in handicapping matters. But individuals on HBF have formally submitted views about official handicapping practices, some of which seem outdated. These include that greater transparency of ratings and the ratings process would improve understanding and promotion of the sport. We await developments.

 

HBF writes:

Others are better placed to answer this than HBF. However, HBF believes there is a very clear distinction between FOBTs (games of chance) and betting on horseracing (can be a game of skill, the acquiring of which may turn the individual in question into an advocate for the sport itself). HBF believes this distinction should have been emphasised much more in the past and must be in the future. Racing should be very conscious of how it is perceived and ask whether such a hand-in-glove association with FOBTs sends out the right message.

 

HBF writes:

HBF has pushed hard for improved data and made some progress, but there needs to be a change in culture within the sport about the need for accurate and meaningful data, delivered in a timely manner, and it is clear that will take time. Nonetheless, expect significant progress in coming months in some of those areas you have mentioned.
On SP, see remarks made elsewhere about the need for a culture change, though some of what is asked for (e.g. racecourse demographics) have commercial sensitivity. The 2016 industry updates revealed that there will be greater co-operation between racecourses, but not necessarily greater public openness. HBF asked for greater transparency in betting markets, but those – and other legitimate – concerns raised with the Starting Price Regulatory Commission have been ignored.

 

HBF writes:

The Forum has not discussed the Kempton Park situation, in part because it has received no representations about it. HBF understands that a pressure group has been created. While HBF would be opposed to anything which seriously threatened to erode the appeal of betting on horseracing in Britain, it can be asked whether that will be the consequence of the sport losing one – admittedly significant – racecourse out of 60 and having it replaced by another. It is also a reality – however unfortunate or not – that racecourses are assets owned by companies and not the sport itself.

 

HBF writes:

There is a Twitter account (@BallotedOut) which provides a welcome service, but this should not be left to private individuals. On the back of your query, HBF has specifically asked that BHA host the same for all races with clear betting consequences, and BHA has indicated that this matter will be formally discussed as early as this week. Thanks.

 

HBF writes:

HBF’s Chair raised this at a recent Going-Stick Working Party meeting and did not receive an explanation. Sedgefield is not alone in this, though some of the other omissions are down to courses having frost covers that could not be removed in time to take readings. Chair proposed “quickie” readings from which a wider going reading could be extrapolated an hour or so before racing (most readings are several hours, or sometimes a number of days, in advance). Awaiting a response from the GSWP.

 

HBF writes:

HBF does not have an official position on this issue, which the BHA has a race-planning department dedicated to trying to improve. But individual Forum members have submitted suggestions. We would urge you to make your own suggestions known, either through HBF or directly to such as racingquestions@britishhorseracing.com

 

HBF writes:

The intention is to attract more runners, just not “dross” ones. That does not always happen, obviously! More widely, small fields in British racing do not go down well on the international stage. A minimum of 8 runners is the aim. This is really a concern for the likes of the race-planning department at the BHA.

 

HBF writes:

No consensus has been established at HBF, which is made up of a mix of glass-half-full and glass-half-empty individuals! HBF has been outside the loop on this but will be briefed about the situation at its July meeting and intends to make it clear that lowering deductions should at least be considered and that it will oppose attempts to squeeze the betting public for purely short-term gain.

 

HBF writes:

Don’t know! Not an HBF matter, but it underlines how there are intriguing angles in this sport. The sport will benefit from such questions being asked, and more easily explored and answered. HBF is very keen on there being an environment in which the beautiful complexity of horseracing analysis can flourish.

 

HBF writes:

HBF has raised the unsatisfactory nature of “privileged data” with BHA. Its existence runs counter to much that racing is trying to achieve and fuels the impression that racing is an “insider’s game”. HBF will raise this again at its next meeting – at which BHA will be present during a dedicated slot – and seek clearer official policy. This is part of the wider attempt to change culture around data, and that will take time.