Press Release - November 2023

Statement from Nick Rust, Chair, Starting Price Regulatory Commission:

Sir David Metcalf recently left the Board after nearly two decades’ service to SPRC, and Lord David Lipsey will leave the Board in spring of 2024 after a similar length of service. Both have contributed immensely to the regulation of the Starting Price and its continuing relevance as a trusted expression of the market prices for runners in British horse races, and I would like to thank them for all their work and sage stewardship of the SP over so many years.

After an open selection process in late summer, I’m pleased to announce that Mike O’Kane and Bruce Millington have been appointed to the Board. After Lord Lipsey’s retirement from the Board next spring, there will be four directors - the others being Richard Hayler and me. Mike has extensive senior executive experience in the betting industry over many years and is currently a member of the Horserace Betting Levy Board. Bruce has also worked in the industry throughout his career, and recently led the Racing Post for 11 years as Editor. They bring with them skills and experience which will greatly assist the regulation and custodianship of the SP. I warmly welcome them to the Board.

Nick Rust. 22nd November 2023

Press Release - April 2022

The Starting Price Regulatory Commission (SPRC) has been reviewing and updating permanent arrangements for returning SPs which will come into effect from 1 May 2022. The updated mechanism and rules can be accessed here.

The SPRC needed to put into place temporary arrangements using prices from off-course betting operators only to return an SP in the period after the return of British Racing from its covid-19 related suspension in June 2020 because spectators and on-course bookmakers were prevented from attending after the resumption. The Commission subsequently decided in March 2021 that the SP will in future be determined using mainly off-course prices given that such prices constitute more than 98% of the overall market. However, the Commission felt that further work was required to firm up the specific details of the methodology to account for current market factors such as differing each-way terms, and to give clearer guidance as to which price sources can be included in the available pool of prices from which the SP can be determined, and approved recommendations from its Technical Committee at its Board meeting of 24 February 2022.

The changes mean that the Commission will consider including any price source to be valid if it is freely available to customers in the United Kingdom, if the prices are available to each-way terms derived from the win-only price and if the price source operator constitutes at least 1% of the UK market for betting on British Racing*. Where valid price sources come from betting operators that are in common ownership and do not demonstrate independent operation of the books run by their sister brands, only one price source will be included. The current list of price providers is Bet365, BetFred, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, Sky Bet, Unibet and William Hill. The Commission would welcome the inclusion of other valid price sources that meet our criteria.

The other main amendment concerns the method for selecting price sources when differing (and non-standard) each-way terms are offered. The changes reflect up-to-date market dynamics.

The Commission is also releasing its 2021 Annual Report which can be accessed here. The report continues to show that average overrounds per runner (the bookmakers’ theoretical profit margin) have been considerably lower in 2021 than in the period before covid-19 when the SP was determined from the on-course market only. The previous findings of an adjustment to the relative prices of the first two in the betting remain consistent with the findings for 2020 and reflect demand in the overall market for betting on British Racing.

Nick Rust, Chair of the SPRC, said: “I’m grateful to my fellow Commissioners and the members of our Technical Sub-Committee for the work they have done to update the SP mechanism’. We needed to move from temporary arrangements put in place as a result of coronavirus to permanent ones which reflected both contemporary market dynamics and the Commission’s previous decision to move to a largely off-course price basis. The SP continues to be robust and plays a very important role in ensuring fair returns for betting customers whether betting at SP or benefitting from Best Odds Guaranteed.”

Finally, the Commission has reviewed and modernised its Terms Of Reference which can be found here.

*This would mean an expression of on-course prices could be included since the overall on-course market is estimated to be around 1.5% of the total market. The SPRC has worked with the Betting and Gaming Council, whose members have made available monies to assist on-course bookmakers to produce a technical solution which can provide an observation of their prices should they wish their prices to be included in the SP.


Press Release From The Starting Price Regulatory Commission - April 2021

The Starting Price Regulatory Commission announces the retirement of Lord Donoughue as Chairman of the SPRC and his replacement by Nick Rust on 6 April.


Sprc report


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Arrangements for Returning the SP During Closed Doors Racing

For returning the SP during from 1st June 2020, British horse racing will be resuming but behind closed doors. As there will be no punters or bookmakers present on the racecourse, the SPRC has taken steps to ensure that a Starting Price can still be returned. During this period, the SP will be based on the betting shows of a sample of the largest off-course bookmakers operating in Great Britain. We are working to ensure that as wide a sample as possible of suitable bookmakers is included. Where more than one bookmaker is in the same ownership group a maximum of one feed per group will be included in the sample, unless there is compelling evidence that those books are competing against one another. From 1st June the sample will include a single feed from Ladbrokes-Coral and Paddy Power- for example.

The principles for calculating the SP will be broadly similar to those used in the traditional method and further details are provided below.

The SPRC will monitor the effectiveness of this process on an ongoing basis and will conduct a review after its first full month of use, in July 2020.

Principles of the Temporary Off-Course Starting Price (SP) Procedure

  1. Application of Current Starting Price Procedure
  2. The broad principles and terminology from the current SP Procedures are retained, except that the terms ‘criteria prices’ or ‘criteria bookmakers’ no longer apply.

  3. Selecting a Sample
  4. There is no maximum sample size. The sample will be an even number wherever practically possible in accordance with established procedures.

    Where some bookmakers are betting to non-customary terms, the sample will include only those betting to customary terms if the sample does not fall below an agreed minimum sample size

    Where fewer bookmakers than the agreed minimum sample size are betting to customary each way terms, a minimum sample will be selected in the following order:

    1. Bookmakers betting to customary each way terms
    2. Bookmakers betting to the customary number of places at an enhanced fraction
    3. Bookmakers betting to one additional place at a reduced fraction
    4. Bookmakers betting to one additional place at the customary fraction or better
    5. Bookmakers betting to two additional places at a reduced fraction
    6. Bookmakers betting to two additional places at the customary fraction or better etc.

    It is not envisaged that any bookmaker will offer betting at terms less favourable than customary each way terms.

  5. No Starting Price
  6. No SP will be returned if a sample of 3 bookmakers cannot be achieved.

  7. Bookmaker’s Own Prices
  8. Any bookmaker whose feed of prices appears to the SP validator to precisely mirror the PA’s live show feed may be excluded from the sample.

      Customary Each-Way Terms

      All races with less than 5 runners n/a No places offered
      All races with 5,6 or 7 runners 1/4 1st & 2nd
      All races with 8 or more runners except those listed below in this table 1/5 1st, 2nd & 3rd
      Handicaps, Nursery and Rated Stakes Handicap races with 12 to 15 runners 1/4 1st, 2nd & 3rd
      Handicaps, Nursery and Rated Stakes Handicap races with 16 or more runners 1/4 1st, 2nd , 3rd & 4th