British horseracing made its long-awaited return on Monday June 1, and bookmakers have described business as both ‘brisk’ and ‘solid’.
The 76-day blackout has left many bookies counting the cost, with losses per month predicted to be around £50 million per month by GVC Holdings, the owner of Coral and Ladbrokes.
So the return of horse racing could not be timed any better, and the initial foray at Newcastle on Monday was ‘generally well received’ by the betting community, according to Coral.
Their spokesman, David Stevens, said:
“It’s great to have UK racing back, and we’ve seen plenty of regular racing customers getting involved in the Newcastle action, while it’s also been a boost for the sport in terms of Levy contribution and streaming rights, which are a vital part of racing’s funding.
“Things certainly step up a gear in terms of quality later this week, with ITV coverage also a huge positive for sports fans starved of live action in recent weeks, so for those who enjoy an online flutter, there’s plenty to look forward to.”
However, there were some words of caution with bookies’ shops not expected to open until June 15 at the earliest.
“Betting shops remain shut across the country, so turnover on this first card back was solid rather than spectacular,” Stevens said.
The bookies would have been smiling at the end of Monday’s action, with 16/1 and 22/1 winners on the day ensuring a number of favourites were bested. That said, a sense of normality has returned since with a number of short-priced favs taking the line in first place.
Spokesperson for the Betfair Exchange, Barry Orr, confirmed there was a real appetite for the action.
“In Newcastle, the Betfair exchange matched volumes were very strong with an average of around £1million matched per race.
“As you can imagine, for a Monday in June, that would represent a sizeable increase on the usual level of activity in relation to a similar card pre-lockdown.”
And Nicola McGeady of Ladbrokes said:
“Turnover levels were decent and higher than we’d expect for a normal Monday. It was a mixed bag of results for punters, but wins for Brian The Snail and Victor Ludorum in France ensured bookies didn’t have it all their own way.”
Frankel Offspring Aims for Guineas Glory
The hope is that high street betting shops will return on June 15 – just in time for Royal Ascot.
Sadly, that means that their doors won’t be opened in time for the Guineas weekender – the first classics of the flat campaign.
On Saturday, the 2,000 Guineas will be run on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile, and the unbeaten Pinatubo heads the early betting.
Six starts and six wins in 2019 marked Charlie Appleby’s horse out as one of the finest two-year-olds on the planet, and the Chesham Stakes and Dewhurst Stakes champion will surely take some stopping.
His case will surely be aided by the fact that a number of Irish jockeys won’t be making the trip due to the rules about quarantining, and that will surely impact upon the hopes of Aidan O’Brien and co.
On Sunday, the 1,000 Guineas will take centre stage. Here the daughter of Frankel, Quadrilateral, will lead the way in a 14-strong field.
She won the Fillies’ Mile in her unbeaten two-year-old campaign, and her performance at Newmarket could be enhanced by the presence of a tongue strap for the first time – Quadrilateral is the 9/4 favourite in the ante-post market.
Aidan O’Brien has trained three of the last four 1,000 Guineas winners, and his charge will be led by Love – third in the Fillies’ Mile – having failed to supplement the likes of Peaceful and So Wonderful.