Now that the UK Tote‘s suitors have all declared their intentions, The Independent has taken a comprehensive look at the field to determine who’s likely to emerge with the bit between his teeth. The current bookmakers’ favorite are Northern Racing’s Reuben Brothers at 7-2, followed closely by Sportech (4-1), then we have Betfred’s bid tied with ex-Ladbrokes man Chris Bell and his private equity backing (5-1). Both Martin Broughton and Paddy Power are listed at 6-1, but the odds drop off sharply from there.
Andy Stewart and his Cenkos mates are all by themselves in the middle of the pack at 12-1, while France’s PMU can only manage a 20-1 price. Staring at the rest of the horses’ arses at 25-1 are South Africa’s Phumelela, America’s Churchill Downs, Gala Coral and, finally, the Tote’s current management and their charity scheme. Given that they don’t allow UK betting companies to set foot on their home turf, the foreign firms aren’t likely to get a serious look, and Gala Coral are probably too skint to be taken seriously.
As for the Tote, they’re vaguely threatening a ‘from hell’s heart, I stab at thee’ approach if they lose. The Jockey Club has gone on record as warning whoever acquires the Tote that they can’t necessarily expect to occupy their same premium positioning at tracks such as Cheltenham and Newmarket. Nor could they expect a decent deal on renewing the services of Turf TV, which supplies the Tote with all those lovely moving images of galloping horses. Stay classy, Jockey Club.
Speaking of the public tit, Brian Kavanagh, chief exec of Horse Racing Ireland, is getting a lot of stick over performance-related bonus payments. Kavanagh was awarded bonuses of €65k in 2008 and €57k in 2009, of which a total of €84k has so far been paid out. This comes on the heels of allegations earlier this year that Kavanagh’s compensation was €313k in 2008, reportedly a 22% jump over 2007’s paycheck. Kavanagh has dismissed the allegations as an attempt by bookmakers to change the subject on the onerous issue of levy payments. A successful attempt, apparently.