Here we show some answers to some of the questions we have been asked.


The SPRC received the following complaint through its website:

You should be aware that there was a wholesale illegal manipulation of 3 horses; Fire Away, Blazing Dixie & Gallahers Cross. SP punters were ripped off & given massive low prices on these 3 favourites. The "SP"s given were NOT the proper SP's they should have been, presumably overseen by SPRC.

Just because they were potentially caught by prices laid does NOT, AT ALL, allow the Bookmakers to defraud SP backers. What are you going to do about this ?

Our Response

The starting price (SP) is determined by an algorithm publicly available on the homepage of our website. This algorithm has not substantially changed since the SP went over to being based on off-course prices rather than on-course prices, but details of the differences that have been applied are openly set out on this page.

Elsewhere on the website, we explain how the SP is calculated. This says:

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.

The Starting Price Validation team have retrieved the relevant data and shared it with the SPRC, confirming that more than half of all sampled bookmakers were offering the returned SPs at the point each race started.

The SPRC sees no reason to suppose that established procedures were not adhered to in this case. We are satisfied that the correct SPs were returned. If you have any concerns about the integrity of the races themselves these should be shared with the British Horseracing Authority. If you have evidence of any form of price fixing by bookmakers this should be reported to the Gambling Commission and/or the Competition and Markets Authority.

The SPRC does not pass judgement on what is the appropriate SP for any horse except to check that the starting price accurately records the odds available on each horse in the market at the time of the ‘off’. We are satisfied that the SPs for the races referred to were returned accurately. However, it is our informal observation that the winning SPs and market overrounds for the races you are referring to are not untypical of the winning prices and overrounds of similar, historical races in which certain horses having shown little or no recent worthwhile form have been similarly heavily gambled in the morning markets. We recognise that incidents of this nature involving multiple bet liabilities as substantial as has been reported are relatively rare and we do not believe that these races should be used in isolation as a measure of the effectiveness or fairness of the Starting Price mechanism.

The SPRC is currently gathering data to review the effects of using off-course bookmakers’ prices to determine SPs.