Horse racing and betting have always been inextricably linked. While in the modern day this doesn’t sit well with some, it’s worth remembering that the sport began in the first place with owners of thoroughbreds matching their best animals and wagering on the outcome.
Furthermore, betting revenue remains crucial to the sport and is part of its very funding, but can those involved in the sport day-to-day bet on races or is their insider info an unfair advantage? Here’s what jockeys, trainers and owners are and are not allowed to do regarding race betting.
Jockeys, for fairly obvious reasons, are dealt with strictly when it comes to betting on horse racing. The BHA is unwavering in this regard as they are there to look after the integrity of the entire sport.
The thought of a jockey betting on themselves is bad enough, but a rider being allowed to bet against their own mounts naturally leaves the sport open to corruption and so this will never be permitted.
Simply put, professional jockeys may not back or lay a horse in any race with any bookmaker or betting exchange. Neither must they instruct another person to do so on their behalf, nor receive any proceeds from such a wager.
Licenced jockeys then are completely banned from betting on horse racing at all times and despite no doubt being asked for general opinions all the time, they cannot be seen to profit from any successful bets either.
A jockey’s opinion on a horse is very important not just to the trainer and the owner, but also to the betting public, so the riders it has to be said are forever walking a fine line on this point. As long as they don’t accept any gifts or rewards as the result of betting or be present in the betting ring at a meeting, they’ll steer clear of any trouble.
The betting rules are slightly different where trainers are concerned, though their ability to place a bet still rankles with some people in the industry.
Trainers can back horses freely, but are strictly forbidden from laying a horse that is under their control. They cannot instruct anybody else to lay a horse they are training either, nor receive any proceeds from such a bet.
Fairly self-explanatory then. If a trainer wants to have a bet, they can, but they must not place money on a horse to lose.
A trainer’s ability to bet is what often shapes a betting market, especially in novice races. As a punter, you may not know anything about a horse when it has not raced in public. The trainer on the other hand gets to see the animal every day and knows when it is working well.
If the trainer sees their horse open at 3/1 in the betting market and they know the horse should be favourite, they are free to back it at which point the bookmakers will adjust their prices accordingly, shrinking the odds significantly.
The main reason for the different way in which trainers and jockeys are treated on this matter is that jockeys can directly influence the result of a race right there on the track, trainers can’t.
While owners themselves are also in a privileged position, much like trainers and jockeys, they are free to do as they please.
Owners of racehorses registered by the BHA are free to back and lay, though this has led to some controversy in the past.
Given that they simply pay the bills, it is not thought that an owner would back, or especially lay, for any nefarious reason. However, there has been some discontent among the punter ranks when rumours have leaked about a horse not being so well, only for a few people laying the animal on the exchanges, and then that horse not running or performing badly.
This often seems to suggest that the owners themselves know the result may not go their way and so at least by laying the horse they recoup some money, which should not be allowed.
Once again, many prominent owners however bet on horses openly and are once more responsible for bookmaker’s reactions.
The Coolmore team on the flight or JP McManus in the jumps arena would be great examples of this. Neither party is backward in coming forward when it comes to putting down some serious cash on their horses when they believe they are in a great position, which is why you’ll see their odds plummeting pre-race.