There are just two days left for bookmakers and the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) to come together on a mutually acceptable number for next year’s Levy. With no resolution in sight, it seems inevitable that the government will be forced to step in after Sunday’s midnight deadline passes. On the positive side, there hasn’t been much enthusiasm among trainers to heed Racehorse Owners Association president Paul Dixon’s call for a work stoppage to ‘exert maximum harm on bookmakers’, but this inaction doesn’t mean the two sides are going to be singing kumbaya anytime soon.
That seems to be the attitude heading into Monday’s televised debate between the two sides, which will air as part of The Special Report on Sky Sports News (7:30pm local time). Betfair claims it is prepared to send legal director Martin Cruddace down to the set in his best debating outfit, but only on the condition that BHA honcho Nic Coward shows up as well. However, Coward has so far only committed to showing up on videotape to deliver a pre-recorded monologue, leaving the heavy lifting to PR man Paul Struthers. (Ladbrokes is sending their own PR man, Ciaran O’Brien.)
Also not likely to appear in person during the half-hour showdown is BHA chair Paul Roy, who presumably doesn’t want to interrupt his bookmaker demonizing by having to answer questions about his recent Betfair shares purchase. Odd, that.
Sticking with Betfair, the betting exchange has made an early attempt to claim the Father Christmas mantle by announcing a donation of £250k to the Horsemen’s Group (representing jockeys, owners and trainers). The money is intended to help top up prize money at this winter’s most destitute events, but as one Scrooge among the horsemen observed, it would take £25m to make a difference. In other words, thanks, but… Humbug!