Wed | Oct 17, 2018

Jimmie riding the wrong horse

Published:Wednesday | December 10, 2014 | 12:00 AM


Sunday's In Focus featured Ainsley 'Jimmie' Walters' regular assault on horse racing's claiming system and support of reintroducing England's handicapping/rating system, which was imported into Jamaica in the 1980s (always copied prevailing British handicapping systems before) and abandoned in 1993.

As a form of academic masturbation, the debate could be interesting, but it's irrelevant to the issue he claimed (pun intended) to be addressing, namely, Caymanas Track Limited's (CTL) unprofitability. Jimmie brings the perspective of a tipster/punter to the discussion but seems unaware of the business realities of horse-racing industries. Regardless of whether claiming continues or rating/handicapping is reintroduced, CTL will flounder unless:

1. Government divests the racetrack;

2. The pernicious tote takeout of 30 per cent (win pool) and 40 per cent (exotics) is reduced to no higher than 15 per cent. THIS is why there are too many odds-on favourites;

3. Taxes on imported horses are removed and significant breeders' incentives are introduced;

4. Purse distribution to stakeholders is reformed to give more to owners.

What Jimmie has forgotten is that racing's 'success' of the 1970s-'80s came because it was the only game in town. Today, punters have many strictly regulated, corruption-free alternatives with 85-95 per cent payouts (instead of racing's 60-/70 per cent), plus the ability to bet on overseas sports/racing at single-digit takeouts without leaving home.

When we've dealt with these fundamentals, a handicapping/ rating vs claiming debate may become relevant