Yesterday saw the first day of Corals much publicized stunt of promising to lay to a liability of 5k to anybody in their shops on any horse in a C4 live race. I wondered whether this was really going to be honoured so for the first time in a few years I geared up to a morning in town with a view to backing in Corals. To test their word I needed a couple of horses that were top priced with Corals or at least joint top priced, including Betfair. I strolled into Corals at 9.15am and asked for £500 on Rev De Sivola at 5/1. The manager immediately got flustered and refused the bet although he did say that he could perhaps take £100. When I pressed him about this new policy he at first pretended ignorance but then realizing that I knew all about the offer he offered to ring up after pointing out that I was red graded as a customer. When he got through to head office he was clearly unhappy to be told that he had to take the bet. In fact you could be forgiven for thinking that head office had just told him to stand all the bet out of his own wages. When I asked if this now meant that I could bet on these races to the tune of 5k he said not necessarily, my bets would be monitored on an ongoing basis and the rules could change for me. Didn’t see that in full page advert in the Racing Post on the day.
Half an hour later I went back in and had £500 on Fill The Power at 6/1 which again upset him but this time after another phone call he seemed more resigned to the fact that he had to take the bet.
What does this all mean for racing and punters?. Should we be happy that one bookmaker is taking bets on certain Saturday races ?. Should we be optimistic and hope that other bookmakers will follow suit ?. On the other hand should we ask ourselves what picture does this paint for new punters to the racing game. Are they being told that the vast majority of weekly races are not trustworthy for bookmakers to accept bets on ?. A punter can now go into Corals and get £500 on a 10/1 shot on a Saturday C4 race and then be offered SP only on a similar bet throughout the rest of the weeks racing, even a competitive handicap on Wednesday afternoon. There is of course the other facet to this offer in that most punters are not interested in 5k liabilities. They would rather have a 1k liability on any race throughout the week or perhaps even less.
As a footnote I did not notice any price differences between shops and online in the said C4 races, something that was predicted by many in various forums.