Why ‘related contingency’ in horseracing bets is a rip-off
Stan James’ front man Rory Jiwani raised some long dormant hackles in me yesterday when he tweeted SJ’s offer of Cinders And Ashes to win The Fighting Fifth and Champion Hurdle at the ‘special price’ of 12/1. At the time of his tweet C&A could be backed for the Champion at 10/1 – his SP in the Fighting Fifth was 10/11. What Mr Jiwani was effectively saying was ‘I’m assuming he has already won today and will therefore offer a shade over 11/2 for the Champion Hurdle’.
C&A lost and drifted to 16/1 for Cheltenham encompassing nicely the folly of taking related contingency prices on horse racing bets. I rarely meet an experienced punter who questions these RC bets – it has always been the way and to many it seems logical, ‘If my horse wins the first leg of my bet, I’d expect him to shorten for the second one’. What they never consider is what the odds would be if their horse lost the first leg. The fact that it doesn’t matter then because the bet is down anyway does not make the odds correct.
Take, in hindsight, what the ‘correct’ odds for C&A appear to have been – 31.45 to 1 (10/11 & 16s). But you cannot argue that this is accurate either, because that assumes that leg 1 of the bet is lost. The correct odds, in my opinion should be the simple multiplied odds that apply to any normal double – in this case, 20/1.
RC bets are valid in some sports, football for example. Chelsea to win 2-0 and Chelsea to win the match should obviously not be accepted because if the first part happens the second part is certain. ‘Man Utd to win today and win the League’ would also see a perfectly fair application of RC odds – 3 points enhance their chances of winning the league, no question.
In horse racing the bookmaker wants the best of both worlds. At the time the bet is struck the punter has no advantage over the bookmaker, he knows no more than the bookie does. The bookie assesses the horse’s chances based on the info available and prices the horse accordingly for both events. In quoting you a ‘special’ RC price what he is saying is,”Even though we are both in possession of the same information, I want to reserve the right to insure myself in case I got it wrong – and I am not going to pay that insurance premium, you are”.
Now, if there were a rider that allowed your insurance premium to be returned in the event of your horse losing leg 1, RC bets would be much fairer.
If you’re in any doubt about the value of RC bets, ask yourself this; supposing you wanted a double yesterday on Countrywide Flame to win the Fighting Fifth and Cinders And Ashes to win the Champion, do you think you’d have been the beneficiary of RC in that the bookie would have laid you 16s C&A for the Champion, before the Fighting Fifth?