Matt Stewart editorial in today's Melbourne press. Interesting that he rarely if ever writes about rebates given to high rollers by Tabcorp, somewhat to his fellow Sydney scribes in the News Corp stable.
Robert Smerdon and his foreman Stuart Webb are not dills.
They know their horses, know the form, know the map, know how and when to bet.
But they are petrified of Betfairitis. Everyone is.
On Saturday everyone thought Lumosty was a good thing at Flemington. The form gurus were all over her. She’d bee too classy, too sharp.
But Lumosty was “off’’ on the betting exchange.
Smerdon was at Morphettville and Webb in the Flemington grandstand as Lumosty cantered to the gates, struck down by Betfairitis.
She was unlayable on Betfair and drifted, alarmingly, from $3.20 to $5 on official betting fluctuations.
Both trainer and foreman were being bombarded by texts. “Had a leg fallen off?’’
An odd thing happened. Lumosty bolted in.
Smerdon and Webb said afterwards that their confidence was shot by the time the gates opened.
Since Betfair’s arrival from the UK about a decade ago they and others have learned that the exchange, where in simple terms someone plays bookie and someone else punter, is rarely wrong.
Trainer Robert Smerdon says his confidence was shot about Lumosty’s prospects because of Betfair by the time the gates opened.
A wise old professional punter — let’s call him The Emu — said Betfair was “God”.
“If they’re out the gate at Betfair, they just don’t win,’’ he said.
The Emu cited a recent example. “Horse trained by Mark Kavanagh at Ballarat last week; had trialled beaut, looked a moral. Was something like $2.50 to $2.30 on official flucs but you could get $7 on Betfair. It ran tailed off, last.’’
The Emu says the crippling effect of Betfairitis proves some stables (he wasn’t referring to Kavanagh) must leak like bullet-riddled buckets.
“Info’s getting out, simple as that,’’ he said. “One might be a bit sore, put in an average gallop. Low-paid staff can make a good quid leaking to big Betfair punters.
“But the pros are also doing their own markets, which are often far different than say fixed odds or official betting fluctuations and their opinions are represented through odds available on the exchange. Some big punters are also manipulating markets on it. There is a hell of a lot of smoke and mirrors with Betfair.’’
The stewards are well aware Betfair is God. Whole rooms are dedicated to monitoring it.
Stewards pay little attention to official betting fluctuations but if one is “off’’ on Betfair — like Baron Archer at Echuca in March — alarm bells go off.
Racing Victoria chief steward Terry Bailey said he and his panel found Betfair “very accurate”.
“Many drug tests and inquiries have been sparked by wildly drifting favourites. But the statistical guys (punters) are big on it, one in particular. If he reckons a favourite can’t win, it will be out the gate (drift alarmingly),’’ he said.
Terry Bailey and his stewards monitor Betfair very closely and believe the betting exchange is “very accurate”.
Bookmakers are also believers.
They used to whip up their own betting markets, with an eye on the bookie next door, but most have learned that the real story of the race that’s not yet run is told by Betfair.
The exchange crashed during the middle day of the Warrnambool carnival last week. Some reckon Russian gangsters infected Betfair’s software with a virus, which they’d done before.
The bookies stood helpless on their stands, naked without the wisdom of the exchange.
But for all of its power, the local exchange is said to be in strife; huge overseas but far from it here.
A Betfair spokesman denied it was struggling, saying “the exchange is growing strongly and is the only wagering platform that can service sophisticated and winning customers’’.
Asian exchanges, which are difficult to hold to any account, are already being used by some colourful types. They are hovering as Betfair’s murky successors