Racing Behind Closed Doors

Commenting on the proposed return of racing behind closed doors, Lord Donoughue, Chairman of the SPRC, said:

“When that happens, and there won’t be punters and there won’t be on-course bookies, we had to think ‘what do we do then?’ The SP must be available at that time because it is far and away the biggest platform for betting, and especially for the ordinary punters, that matter very much to us. So, we have also been preparing for a period when the off-course betting would be the sole component, but that isn’t the long-term view. We have two timescales – one could be, I hope, very soon, with racing resuming behind closed doors and then we would need to have a starting price taking account of the off-course betting and then when normal racing resumes we will want a new algorithmic formula to involve off-course and on-course.”

Preparations include development of systems that will ingest live price feeds from eight to 12 major off-course bookmaking firms, from which a Starting Price sample will be selected utilising the current SP rules and procedures.

Rules for determining the Starting Price (SP)

The starting price for each horse is the market price at the off generally available to good money on the boards of those bookmakers in a sample whose each-way terms for a given race most closely reflect the each-way terms on offer for that race in the off-course retail market.

a. Decision rule for calculating SP

For each horse in a race the prices on offer by all bookmakers in the sample are ordered into a list from longest to shortest. The list is then divided into two equal halves and the SP is the shortest odds available in the half containing the longest odds. The SP or a longer price will have been offered by at least half the bookmakers in the sample.

b. Selected definitions

i Bookmaker

A bookmaker is defined as an on-course bookmaker betting in accordance with the Gambling Commission’s Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice. For the purpose of SP sample selection, these rules categorise bookmakers as SP Qualified or Non-Criteria. A SP Qualified bookmaker displays prices against every runner for at least ten minutes before the scheduled off time of each race and continues to do so up to the off. A Non-Criteria bookmaker does not display prices in this way.

ii Good money

Generally that offered by a Starting Price Qualified Bookmaker who, in the judgment of the SP Validator following consultation with the Betting Operator, is prepared to lay a single bet to lose at least £500 on each horse in a scheduled race at that meeting.

c. Each-way terms

The sample is selected (see below) partly on the basis of each-way terms offered. Customary each-way terms are:

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

Criteria each-way terms offer 1/5 of the odds in Handicaps, Nursery and Rated Stakes Handicaps (first four places) in races with 16-21 runners.

d. Sample selection

The maximum sample size is 24 and the normal minimum is 6. If there are fewer bookmakers available, as often occurs at winter all weather meetings, the minimum sample size can be lower, but never less than 3. The sample is selected in the following order or precedence:

  • SP qualified bookmakers offering customary eachway terms
  • SP qualified bookmakers offering criteria each-way terms
  • SP qualified bookmakers offering win-only terms
  • Non-criteria bookmakers