A Little Buzz, Wet Blankets & Other Worldly Betting Volume

I think this was the year the NHC got it right.

I have watched, or wanted to watch and follow the National Handicapping Championship over the years and I found it was not easy. There were some (taped) interviews, the odd leader board and general data and coverage, but it was not in the least bit engaging. When compared to a trip to Hong Kong racing for some local tweeters, a horse racing 'event' with everyone's headwear on full display, and feature video on a stable pony who likes beer, it really was no comparison.

This year it was different. With some marketing money, a push to share the event via social media, and all hands on deck at racetracks where mandatory races were being raced, it was easy to follow. Dare I say, me and a lot of you were "engaged"?

Considering racing gets most of its revenue from betting, and trying to draw eyeballs to betting is important, this should not come as a surprise, but to me it did. It was well done. It showed that someone cared to get this event moving outside the confines of a Vegas casino.

Now the question remains, what more can be done to promote this National Championship? I am sure they can do better and with the apparent success they had this year, they'd be wise to try and build on it.

I watched Mohaymen this weekend. I am probably the first person to look for chinks in the armor of a horse, and do it often when I think it's warranted, but after his win in the Holy Bull, the wet blanket police were out in full force and I was not one of them. I get it - he didn't seem to beat much and wasn't tested - but otherwise, no, I don't get it.

This is not a Pletcher speedball with one nice Florida score. Mohaymen has sparkling efforts at other racetracks.

It was off a mini-layoff, where if a horse does not fire in his 3YO debut, the excuses come out. There are no excuses needed when you win like that.

He was pinned down on the inside for a spell, split horses in tight quarters at the half and showed seasoning and moxy.

He sprinted home in six without being asked, like a push button horse does. Others in there could not come home in six and they went slower fractions.

He was straight as an arrow in the lane, showing no signs of soreness. He galloped out like a sound horse and returned to the winners circle like he wanted to race again.

I learned a lot from that race. 

I understand when a horse wins by more than two lengths twitter goes overboard and it can be annoying, but any criticism seems reaching. It, in my view, was a fantastic three year old debut from what looks like a really nice horse.

I've been doing a little reading about Australia racing the past week or so. A few snips.

When handle changes are brought up, they are all qualified with the rate of inflation. If the inflation rate is 3% and handle is up 3%, the next statement is usually, "we're stagnating and we have to make changes" In North America, if handle is up 2%, the industry calls it growth.

In 2014, $26B (about $US18B that year) was bet on racing and sports (the vast majority - $22B - on horse racing). That's $1,200 for every man, woman and child. The average bet size is $43. In North America, we can see 40,000 at a race, where for the whole day only $40 is bet per capita.

Australia's GDP is about the size of Texas's. So, if the environment was the same, that would be like Texas betting US$10B or so on horse racing alone. Of course, it's not the same. ADW's are banned in Texas.

90% of bets are $50 and under. The smaller folk - say the nice hat crew at the Melbourne Cup - still come to play.

Out of that $26B, about $2B is held. Last year for California horse racing, 21.2% was held.

Digital growth is paramount, at 45% in 2014 for bets placed at TAB, the main horse racing pari-mutuel outlet. This is interesting from the North American perspective, because ADW taxes hurting online wagering growth, getting more people on track to bet, and trying to get a bigger share of any new wagering is the policy of the day.

For horse racing, close to half of all wagers are made in the WPS. This is not considered glass half empty - or should not be - because that means your customers are grinding and churning. In North America it would be glass half empty. "Get those people into the Rainbow Six, stat."

I hope y'all have a nice day and thanks for reading.

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