Evans case sparks calls for more co-operation between all parties in racing
The controversial case involving trainer David Evans and Ladbrokes has brought calls for a "far more co-operative culture” between the betting industry, the sport’s regulators and punters.
The Horseracing Bettors’ Forum on Wednesday night wrote to the Gambling Commission, formed under the Gambling Act 2005 to regulate commercial gambling in Great Britain in partnership with licensing authorities, asking the public body to inquire into why Ladbrokes shortened the price of Tango Sky with the knowledge that Evans intended to declare the horse a non-runner.
The HBF, created two years ago with the assistance of the BHA to represent the perceived interests of those who bet on horseracing, claim it has been frustrated in their attempts to converse with betting operators and their trade bodies.
Simon Rowlands, chair of the HBF, said: “While we have considerable disquiet about a licensed trainer being granted preferential terms for what might be construed as supplying inside information, at least that matter has been dealt with by the disciplinary panel.
"But we believe somebody should be inquiring into the trimming of a horse’s price by Ladbrokes, when they have been told the horse would be, and indeed was, a non-runner. The Gambling Commission is empowered to do this with betting operators – they hold the licensing objectives to account.
“Betting companies more generally need to be a lot more receptive to have discussions with bodies like the HBF to find a way forward for the mutual benefit of all involved.
“We have had, with one or two exceptions, a pretty disappointing response to our attempts to establish dialogue with not only individual betting operators but with their trade bodies, the Association of British Bookmakers and the Remote Gambling Association.
“We feel there needs to be a far more co-operative culture between the betting industry, the regulators of horseracing and those who might bet on it.”
The BHA on Wednesday published the disciplinary panel's notes from the hearing, in which Evans was fined a total of £3,140 for conduct prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and/or good reputation of horseracing and not immediately notifying the Racing Calendar office of a non-runner. It also released the explosive transcript of Evans' conversation with the Ladbrokes trader on the morning of the race at Wolverhampton in 2015.
Rowlands said: “The fact that Ladbrokes shortened the price of a horse with the knowledge it was going to be declared a non-runner is extremely concerning for punters. This could potentially erode public confidence.
“If it were believed that this was definitely a one-off case of a trainer supplying inside information to a bookmaker and getting preferential terms then it wouldn’t necessarily have a long-term threat to the confidence in betting, but I’m sure many people will be asking whether this is a tip of an iceberg and that perception is very damaging to the image of the sport.”
Ladbrokes Coral PR director Simon Clare on Thursday insisted the firm “never knowingly shorten the price of a suspected non-runner”.
Clare said: “In terms of the here and now, we would like to make it very clear that under the Ladbrokes Coral trading policy a licensed trainer will only ever be offered a price that is readily available to our other customers at that point in time.
“We'd also like to state very clearly that we'll never knowingly shorten the price of a suspected non-runner to benefit from an improved Rule 4 deduction.
“In fact Ladbrokes Coral has been proactive in working with other interested bodies to push for a process whereby non-runners are notified and removed from markets more quickly, so that the whole non-runner process is more efficient and transparent for both bookmakers and customers.”
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