Regulator’s concern over allegations of ‘sharp practice’

There was confusion over a non-runner at Cheltenham on Sunday

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker ( Regulator's concern
over 'sharp practice' By Bill Barber 7:12PM 4 JAN 2017

THE Gambling Commission has expressed concern over allegations that some bookmakers shorten horses to cause or increase a rule 4 deduction and has called for those with evidence of wrongdoing to come forward.

The news comes in the aftermath of Cheltenham on Sunday, when Cockney Wren, who was listed in the betting when already declared a non-runner, was cut to 14-1 before the off, ensuring a deduction of 5p in the pound would be charged.

On-course bookmaker Andy Smith of Festival Racing said he had been approached a number of times to shorten up horses who appeared unlikely to run, describing it as "sharp practice".

Gambling Commission executive director Tim Miller said: "If there is clear evidence that operators have deliberately shortened odds to invoke rule 4 and consequently reduce payouts, we'd be extremely concerned as it would be contrary to the statutory obligation to ensure gambling is fair. We'd encourage anyone with clear evidence of this to share it with us.

"The industry needs to remember that its long-term viability is built on customers having trust that they're being treated fairly. Anything that is, or could be perceived as, unfair risks damaging the reputation of the industry as a whole."

The Horseracing Bettors Forum (HBF) has said it had contacted the industry regulator about its concerns about the wider integrity of the betting market.

Miller added: "We've engaged recently with the HBF on the issue of rule 4s and other concerns they have relating to betting markets – we believe it is essential that we and the industry listen to groups set up to represent the interests of consumers."

Read more in Thursday's Racing Post or download the iPad edition from 8pm on Wednesday

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