Coronavirus: Bookies reveal ‘brisk trade’ as British racing returns

PUBLISHED: 12:00 02 June 2020

Jockey Paul Mulrennan wears a face covering at Newcastle Racecourse at Newcastle Racecourse on Monday

Jockey Paul Mulrennan wears a face covering at Newcastle Racecourse at Newcastle Racecourse on Monday

PA Wire/PA Images

Bookmakers issued a mixed report as British racing returned from a 76-day absence, with most firms describing trade as brisk.

Newcastle staged the first meeting following the coronavirus shutdown, with Coral saying the 10-race card was “generally well received” by punters.

However, with bookmakers’ shops not due to reopen until June 15, spokesman David Stevens thought business was only “solid”.

He 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.

“However, betting shops remain shut across the country, so turnover on this first card back was solid rather than spectacular.

“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.”

Other firms were much more positive, but with a 22-1 winner of the opener and a 16-1 victor in the third race, the results were not in punters’ favour.

“It has been a busy trading day, but the results have been very bookmaker-friendly and punters will be hoping for a better day two,” said William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams.

Betfair spokesman Barry Orr also felt trade was strong, noting a “sizeable increase” in comparison to a usual Monday card at Newcastle.

He said: “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.”

Paddy Power were similarly upbeat, with extra interest added by the French Guineas meeting at Deauville.

Spokesman Paul Binfield said: “It’s great to see our magnificent sport, which was attended by over five million people last year and enjoyed at home by millions more, back and, most importantly, being conducted under strict safety guidelines.

“The return coincidentally meant a clash with two French classics and turnover was ‘brisk’ – to put it in perspective equating to an excellent Bank Holiday Monday, but not an average Saturday live on ITV.”

Nicola McGeady of Ladbrokes added: “The return of British racing has been welcomed with open arms by our regular racing customers and proved just how much people have missed live sport.

“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.”

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