Saturday, 5 June 2010

Epsom Downs And A Decade Of Exchanges

A rather good weekend for Ryan Moore at Epsom, to say the least. For as long as I can remember, The Derby has been a race I have had an interest in. My parents' local station, Reedham, was (still is) on the Tattenham Corner line, and when I was old enough, I would ride the six stops down the line, walk across Epsom Downs, pick a spot by the outside rails about a furlong out, hang out for several hours with friends and beer and watch the race for free. Troy's 1979 win in the 200th race and the ill-fated Shergar's widest margin win two years later were a couple of the highlights of those years.

I stopped going when they started fencing off and charging admission to the areas I used to frequent for free. It's that Premium Charge thing again. Had it never been free in the first place, I would have been OK with it, but when a new charge is applied, it hurts far more. My kids have now taken to attending the Derby each year - they must have more money than I have!

Oaks Day 2000 (June 9th) was the original launch day for Betfair, with about £3,462 matched on the Oaks itself. Ten years on, and over £2.6 million matched on the Oaks. It's fair to say that the arrival of Betfair and the other copycat exchanges have revolutionised betting. Not only do we now have wafer thin margins to help us, but the ability to lay, trade and bet in-running. With such an arsenal at our disposal, it's not surprising that so many people sign up expecting the winnings to follow.

It's a zero sum game though. For every £100 that Anonymous loses, Mr. Winner takes £95 and Betfair take their £5 of commission. Still not perfect perhaps, but a hell of a lot better than 10 years ago when we were up against 110%+ books and paying 9% in betting tax. It's hard to believe that this was still being deducted as recently as 2001. Perhaps ten years on and we'll be finding it hard to believe that there were ever such prices as 11/4 or 100/30?

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