Betfair, the internet's leading betting exchange, is believed to be
on the verge of allowing punters to place bets which will be settled at
"Betfair starting price" - the price of a horse at the moment a race begins.
The move is intended to boost liquidity in its racing markets from early in the
day, but is also a clear challenge to traditional bookmakers, who settle the
majority of bets at the official SP, returned by a team of reporters in the
betting ring at the racecourse in question.
Because Betfair makes
its money through a commission on winning bets only, the over-round on its
markets is rarely above 1% when a race starts. This means that the Betfair SP
will almost always beat the official SP, which tends to have a margin of
between 1.75 and 2% for every horse in a race.
Until now, however,
Betfair punters have always been forced to take the best price on offer when
they log on, or leave a "request" for a better price which may, or may not, be
matched by other users. If they can bet at the Betfair SP, they will in the
vast majority of cases, be paid at a better price than the official SP.
The Racing Post has carried "teaser" ads
from Betfair for the last two days, suggesting that the exchange "changed the
face of betting" when it was launched in 2000, and that "history is about to
repeat itself" in December 2007. This suggests a launch date of December 1 for
the new service.
Champion Hurdle clues could be forthcoming at Down
Royal today, when a small but select field gathers for the Anglo- Irish Bank
Hurdle, a Grade Two event which has been won by Macs Joy, Feathard Lady and
Iktitaf in the past three seasons.
Noel Meade, the trainer of Iktitaf,
runs Aitmatov, while last season's Supreme Novice Hurdle winner Ebaziyan gives
weight all round. There will be interest in Dermot Weld's Bobs Pride, who is as
low as 16-1 in places for the Champion Hurdle.
"He's well, though I
think he will definitely come on for the run," said Weld yesterday. Bobs Pride
impressed on his final hurdles run at Punchestown last season, when he had one
of today's rivals, Farmer Brown, four lengths back in third place.
Thewayyouare, trained by Andre Fabre, was cut to 16-1 for next year's
Derby by Ladbrokes after yesterday's Group One Criterium International at