Racing's VAR: bookies warn whip disqualifications would be a blow for punters

POSTED ON  |  11-07-2019

Whip use
Disqualifying winners for whip overuse could give racing its own version of VAR and risk turning punters away from the sport, bookmakers have warned. Contributing to the debate generated by Charlie Fellowes's claim in a guest column in the Racing Post that his own Royal Ascot winner, Thanks Be, should have been thrown out due to jockey Hayley Turner's misuse of the whip – a view supported by fellow trainers Sir Mark Prescott and Donald McCain – bookmakers have suggested reversing results due to the whip rules could cause similar headaches to those football is experiencing with VAR.

Coral spokesman David Stevens believes punters could be turned off betting on horses if their selection is first past the post but loses the race in the stewards' room due to the jockey going over the whip limit. He said: "The issue of whip use and the rules surrounding it is clearly a complex one. We appreciate that changing societal views have brought it into focus, although first and foremost we would encourage the education of both current and potential racing fans and punters as to its place within the sport.  

"In terms of the impact on betting that a potential rule change could have, the first big blow to punters could well be the loss of the double result payout that most firms currently offer should a horse lose the race in the stewards’ room, as that could prove to be a cost too far for firms to swallow with any new rule in place.

"We would also be concerned that punters back what they think is a winner, get ready to collect, only to find out that the jockey has in fact broken the rules and their horse gets disqualified – so they’ve actually backed a loser. If this happened too often punters could easily be turned off betting on racing and also, as we are witnessing with the use of VAR in football, the initial euphoria a punter feels when cheering home a winner could be lost."

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