The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) took the unusual step of contacting both the bookmakers and the Gambling Commission (GC) after suspicious betting patterns alerted them to a potential coup.
If there was ever a niche that showed you the value of: ‘it’s not what you know it’s who you know’, then the Sport of Kings is that niche.
For the second time this year British horse racing was plunged into anarchy after officials believed they could sniff a potential coup.
Back in January, the savvy horse bettor Barney Curley took the UK bookies for an estimated £2.5m after a four-horse betting coup went his way, and the BHA was on the ball when they sensed dejavu at Wednesday’s meeting at Lingfield and Kempton.
Nine horses from Tony Newcombe’s stable, and five trained by Ann Stokell, were all subject to suspicious market moves at the two aforementioned meets, and horse owner Stephen Arnold (who owns four of the horses involved in the potential coup) didn’t help matters when he tweeted.
The horses I have backed in multiples are Daniel Thomas, profile star, decent fella, we have a dream, brown Pete good luck
— stephen arnold (@rakebackmypoker) March 19, 2014
In a bid to protect the integrity of the business the BHA took the rather unprecedented steps of alerting both the GC and the Bookmakers of the potential coup, and it enabled bookmakers to counter swiftly by only offering starting prices for the seven races that involved the plunge horses.
Paddy Power took steps to halt betting on four races at Lingfield and three at Kempton, and were later joined by Boylesports, William Hill, Bet365, Coral and Stan James.
Yet despite the action taken by all parties the whole event turned out to be nothing more than a damp squid.
The Arnold owned Profile Star did win at 3-1, having dropped from 8-1, but Daniel Thomas and Decent Fella failed to get anything going at Lingfield, We Have a Dream had a nightmare at Kempton, Brown Pete was a non-runner, Mambo Spirit had none at Kempton, Chapellerie withdrew just before the off and Red Art suffered the tragedy of a fatal fall.
It sounds like the sort of coup that I would get in on the action with.
Robin Mounsey, media manager of the British Horseracing Authority, said: ‘‘BHA alerted the Gambling Commission yesterday to the possibility of a complex betting related issue involving races at Lingfield and Kempton.
‘‘BHA’s internal monitoring and intelligence networks gathered the information and acted positively once verified and these actions alerted the betting industry in order that bookmakers were able to act in a manner they felt appropriate.
‘‘The action taken reflects our immediate priority in these situations which is to protect both the integrity and reputation of the sport and the interests of the betting public.
‘‘We will continue to monitor the situation today, both in terms of the betting markets but also in relation to the actions of those who may be involved in the matter.”