Archive for the ‘Horse Racing’ Category

LFL Players in Court for Wages

Image: commons.wikimedia.org

In a stunning admission the women employed in the Legends Football League (formerly the Lingerie Football League) have not drawn a wage since 2009!

The Legue’s founder and chairman, Mitchell Mortaza, said on Grantland.com: “If we paid a dime to a player, we wouldn’t sustain a season of play.”

Mortaza worked hard to get a Legends of Football League in Australia. But he was unable to secure a TV deal; without which the league’s success was doomed.

When he returned to the American league he walked back into a storm of controversy.

Mitchell Mortaza: https://twitter.com/mitchellmortaza

Mitchell Mortaza: https://twitter.com/mitchellmortaza

Despite an average attendance of 5000 to each game the players haven’t received payment since the inaugural season of 2009/10.

The players (incredibly) have to pay their own health insurance.

Despite the flimsy outfits this is a rough game, injuries do happen. But it’s the players who must pay for their own treatments and rehabilitation.

Mortaza points to the state of the league. It has shrunk from its original 12 teams to 6. Mortaza believes there isn’t any money to give.

Image: www.flickr.com

Image: www.flickr.com

Whether or not he is right will be examined by a court.

Lawyers are contesting the ‘contractural’ status of players.

“These women have to be there for practices, or they don’t play. They have to be there for promotional events, or they don’t play. They have to look a certain way. That’s not an independent contractor-client relationship. It’s an employee-employer relationship,” said a lawyer to Grantland.

These girls should at least be receiving the minimum wage.

Feminists are using the furore to push their own barrow. They decry the skimpy outfits saying they detract from audiences’ appreciation of the athleticism of the players.

Image: www.flickr.com

Image: www.flickr.com

Five Arrested for Racing Fixing

Image: www.harness.org.au

Opponents against gambling in sport are being proved right more and more: Wherever you find gambling you’ll eventually find cheating. The latest incident is the arrest of an alleged trotting race-fixing gang in Victoria.

The investigation focused on two races last year held at the Mildura track. The Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit, the Mildura Crime Investigation Unit, the Office of Racing Integrity Commission, and the Horse Racing Victoria joined forces to work for 10 months, both undercover surveying betting trends. They had had their suspicions about the group and, this time, were, able to make a firm connection between the wagering and the race itself.

The investigation comes at the behest of new Racing Minister Martin Pakula. Almost from the moment he assumed office he made clear his intentions to clean up the sport.

“The Victorian Government has zero tolerance for race fixing,” he was quoted as saying.

Five men were taken into custody by Victorian police including the leading Mildura trainers Greg and his son Shayne Cramp. It will be alleged they were involved in orchestrating the outcome of races and using that informational advantage when betting on the race.

John Anderson, Chief Executive of Harness Racing Victoria, said, “This investigation is at the instigation of Harness Racing Victoria. It has been really good work by our integrity unit and the Victorian Police.

“It proves that despite what some may think, there is always a lot of work going on in the background.

“The fact that this one has been taken up by the police as a criminal matter has helped immensely and hopefully it acts as a deterrent to others.”

Jockey in Critical Condition After Fall in Training

Image: commons.wikimedia.org

Jockey Liz Rice has been put into an induced coma after falling during trackwork at Caulfield on Monday morning.

The young English rider was galloping her horse, Aquanita, to the stables after a morning session and swim when the horse apparently became spooked and threw her.

Paramedics were already at the track treating another woman in a separate incident (a kick to the shin by another horse). They rushed to aid Rice, were able to stabilise her, and took her to The Alfred Hospital.

Stuart Webb, trainer of Aquanita, was nervous for his rider, but hopeful. “Nobody actually saw what happened,” he told reporters. “She was on the horse and then hit the ground. She was unconscious when we arrived.”

Rice hasn’t yet regained consciousness. She was taken to hospital and diagnosed with broken ribs and head injuries.

“She is in a stable but critical condition and in an induced coma,” said Webb. “Doctors will give her all the appropriate tests.”

“She is a good rider and was fully qualified to ride the sort of horse she was on. We don’t know what happened.

“She has been with us for three or four months.

“We have informed her sister (next of kin contact). I’m informed little more will be known for the next couple of days.”

Peter Oliver, Aquanita chief executive, said his team wished Rice a speedy recover. He said everyone was saddened by the mishap.

“It’s very upsetting for everyone – our thoughts are with her and her family at this time.”

Mr Oliver has put an investigation in progress to understand what caused the accident.

Practical Punting and the Melbourne Cup Shame

Why on earth would someone pay for advice on gambling? Gambling, by its very nature, is beyond the scope of analysis. This was my first thought when my mate approached me about our annual Melbourne Cup day-out.

Darin and I (and our girl-friends) have made it a ritual to get dressed up and swan around Flemington every Melbourne Cup. We’ve been regulars for the last six years. It’s a great day out. Everyone goes to an effort – Getting dressed up, sipping on the Champers and springing for a fine meal. It’s not something you have to do everyday, but it’s something you have to do.index

We also, and here the tale takes a darker turn, have a flutter on the great race. To be honest, the girls have a better history of picking winners than Darin and I. To our chagrin, the girls pick according to whichever jockey is wearing livery the same colour as their dresses. It’s quite a humbling experience and the girls never let us forget it.

Which brings me back to my question above: Our knowledge of horses and horse racing was limited to the information we read in the newspapers in the days leading up to the Cup – hardly comprehensive. Darin, however, had recently found a website purporting to bring a little analysis to an otherwise random choice.

‘Practical Punting offers expert tips for horse racing betting,’ was his answer.

But how can anyone be an expert over a random event?

Oddly enough, this type of thing happens everyday. Think of the advice you get from a stockbroker or financial planner. Their areas of expertise are every bit as random as a horse race. Their advice is advice on gambling, pure and simple. The fact their industries shy away from using the word ‘gambling’ supposedly lends their professions a little more credibility. But it’s exactly the same.

Practical Punting,’ Darin said, ‘wasn’t about teaching you to pick the winners, but increasing your chances of picking the winners.’ There’s a big difference. Just like in futures or property development there is no sure thing when it comes to horse racing. But that doesn’t mean it’s a roll of the dice. Why not account for those things that can be accounted for? The potential of the horse shown in its first race compared with its subsequent races, for instance. Or is the trainer showing confidence in the horse by replacing its apprentice jockey with a star jockey? There are dozens, perhaps scores, maybe even hundreds of factors pointing to the current form of a race horse.

melbourne_cupBut unless you’re prepared to devote a 40 hour work week to uncovering and analysing this information you’re going to need help.

‘And this,’ my friend told me, ‘is where free professional horse racing betting systems & tips comes into its own.’ I liked the sound of the word ‘free’, so I checked their website, Practical Punting.

With the Melbourne Cup coming up you owe it to yourself to at least have a look at this website. There’s a lot of well thought out, useful information here. Click through and have a think. All it has to do is pay for the day out, anything after that is profit.

Harness Racing: kind of like a horse chariot but not really

Back in the days of the Victorian era, horse carriages were the preferred mode (slash only mode, besides walking) of transport. Mr Darcy lookalikes in their ‘casual’ midday tuxedos would travel miles and miles for hours in the back of a carriage until finally they stepped out into the sensible arms of their betrothed (who they’d first met earlier that week).

Fast forward a few hundred years and now we have cars. Horse carriages have been put in storage and reserved only for the eager tourists in New York’s Central Park or for the wedding day of those hopeless romantics who enjoy the smell of sloppy horse poo mixed with the aroma of their catering delicacies.

But there is a third option – sort of. It’s what I imagine to be the result of Victoria Era inventors trying to make the horse carriage more aerodynamic and efficient (before they figured out car engines). Picture a brightly coloured jockey sitting behind the ‘exhaust pipe’ of a horse on what resembles a chair on training wheels.

That is harness racing.

And like normal horse races, greyhound races and whatever other track race, people do bet on these events.

harness-racing

 

Wtf is it?

Harness racing is a unique form of horse racing in that the horses race at a specific gait (manner of walking). In Australia, horses can either race at a trot or a pace.

Similar to jockeys in conventional horse racing, the driver  is incredibly important to the race’s outcome. He or she will sit on a two-wheeled cart called a “sulky” – and if I was sitting behind the bum of a horse, I would be sulking too.

In Australia, a race can have quite a large amount of competitors, often 12 or 13. Also, unlike many other countries, the leader does not have to give the lead to a challenging horse, meaning the challenging horse can remain stuck outside in the “death seat”, forced to cover more ground.

A large reason why harness racing gets much less coverage than other horse racing is because it can be difficult to understand. For example, punters often find it difficult to break into this world simply because of the proliferation of jargon and abbreviations. If you are interested, Practical Punting  offers a good rundown of the abbreviations.

For avid punters or those of us who merely look fondly upon the past, harness racing could be a great new hobby. As for me, I know I’ll be pretending that Mr Darcy is riding in that semi-Chariot to claim my love.

Practical Punting and the Ever Elusive Trifecta

It’s simple advice once you hear it. But isn’t that the way it always seems?

I was asking my friend Rob for advice on betting trifectas. Rob enjoys horseracing and he enjoys gambling on horseraces. About a year ago he subscribed to Practical Punting, a horseracing professional gambling guide. Since then his appreciation of horseracing has grown along with his returns.

I wondered if Practical Punting offered any guidelines for placing specific bets, such as on a trifecta.

Practical Punting

Practical Punting

“What you need to remember,” Rob said, “is that you’re looking for an edge. So betting on the favourite to win won’t give you the return for the risk you’re taking. In fact,” he went on, warming to his subject, “it’s a good rule of thumb to limit your trifecta bets to those where you can eliminate the favourite entirely.”

This seemed at odds with everything I imagined about horseracing. Surely the favourite was the favourite for a reason? Surely boxing the favourite in the first three place-getters was a given?

“Nope,” Rob replied. “What you’re looking for is an edge. Identify the favourite who’s currently having poor form and won’t place. The horse might be sick, the jockey inexperienced, the track unfavourable – or many other factors. You’ll know these things because you’ve done your homework. The general public won’t because they are just having a flutter and a bit of fun.

“Once you’ve eliminated the favourite identify the second and third place-getters. These horses often get overlooked when people do their homework. Everyone pays attention to the winners, few pay attention to second and third. But identifying horses with strong records without wins can provide you with a reliable signpost two the now-vacant first spot and runner-up.”

“But this is a trifecta,” I said, “what about the third place?”

“Here’s where it gets really interesting,” Rob replied, “because you won’t make your money from trifectas by winning trifectas.”

I was baffled.

“You’ll make your money from trifectas by winning more trifectas than you lose.” He paused a moment, thinking. The idea behind Practical Punting is to gamble professionally, not necessarily win a single race. So often a longer-term approach needs to be taken. The idea is to only bet on races where the returns exceed the risks; and to do this multiple times. Because no matter how in your favour the risk-reward ratio is you will still occasionally lose. However, over a series of races, where the risk-reward ratio is in your favour, you are likely to come out ahead.”

“That still doesn’t help me identify the third horse,” I pointed out.

Practical Punting

Practical Punting

Rob seemed startled as though I’d said something ridiculous. “Sure it does,” he responded. The third place horse you’re looking for is a bolter; a horse who has shown promise, but not yet delivered. This is because the odds offered on such a horse will be exorbitant. Boxing a hose like this and having it come in ought to make the return on a winning trifecta greater than the losses on a dozen others. It’s a long term strategy where the number of losses exceeds the number of wins, but where the money won far, far exceeds the money lost.”

Rob looked at me and smile, “And we’re in it for the money.”

2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival

sydney autumn racing carnival

Horse racing is easily one of the most nail-biting competitions, regardless of whether you are an audience member, a better or a jockey in the midst of the action. Horse racing has long been a staple of the Australian sporting scene and each year it seems to attract more attention, more flamboyant fashion and a more money on the wager.

The popularity of horse racing in the country can easily be attributed to, at least in part, the fact that it it isn’t simply just an isolated sport: it is an entire festival. Each horse racing carnival involves an extravagant day of celebration, the omnipresent question of how to pick and bet on winners, risk taking with a roller coaster of possibilities from exaltation to despair, fashion, drinks and fascinators, and then of course there’s also the incredibly skilful and fast-paced races.

The Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival is one of the preeminent horse racing competitions in the country and it attracts some of the biggest punters and the keenest audience members over the entire year. There are a large suite of races held as part of the 2014 Autumn Racing Carnival being hosted from the 8th March to 26th April. The Sydney Carnival races are held at Randwick, Rosehill and Warwick Farm racecourses, each unique and advantageous in their own way. Another great thing about racing is the ease with which you can immerse yourself in the action without ever having to leave the living room – simply look up horse racing info online to become part of the race and join in on the edge-of-your-seat tension.

golden slipperOne of the major highlights of the Autumn Racing carnival is the richest two year old race in the world, the Golden Slipper. Behind the Melbourne Cup, the Golden Slipper is easily one of the most anticipated races in the country, with a massive $2 million going to the winner. This, and many of the other races part of the Autumn Racing Carnival such as the Coolmore Classic or the the Rosehill Guineas – and these are just the Group 1 races.

The Championships are held from middle to late April and constitute the culmination of months of training, preparation and anticipation. The Doncaster Mile marks the beginning of the prestigious Championships racing carnival, which brings together the best horses of the seasons for the most fierce and nerve-racking competition yet. Each race has its own benefits, making the entire 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival an absolute imperative to be a part of.

Check out the programme for the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival for more information and to choose the races you simply can’t miss out on. Before making dramatic bets and decisions on the big day of the race, also be sure to consult the experts at Practical Punting for professional  and potentially life changing punting advice. Or if you aren’t part of the betting scene, simply source some exuberant fashion, get some friends together, and prepare yourself for a priceless day out. 

 

Putting the ‘Practical’ in Practical Punting

I thought it would be another day at the track, until I saw Stuart’s face. I’d been one of Stuart’s for the last three years. It’s great fun, very little actual work, lots of excitement when there is, plus I love the whole culture of horses and horse racing, so it really was the perfect job for me.

Stuart was a heavy in racing circles. He had five clerks working for him at any one race meet. We were in constant contact, used the same oddshorse betting calculating algorithms and combined the research we did throughout the week. Stuart looked after us, we were a team, everyone bought something to the table and so we prospered.

But this one morning I could tell something was different.

There was still half an hour before the gates opened to the public, an hour before the first race. Stuart called us into the lounge and handed out photographs of a man I’d never seen before.

“If this guy approaches you change all the odds to 3 to 1 on,” Stuart said nervously. “He’s a shark.”

No one argued. You don’t argue with the boss. But we were all curious. After all, that’s what the odds making algorithms are meant to prevent.

Stuart noticed our quizzical looks and explained.

“He’s one of those Practical Punting guys.”

Usually someone with a system is someone with a disappointment ahead of him. Sure there are people who win more than they lose, but the law of averages demands that it’s going to happen sometime.

The problem with system betters is that they’re difficult to spot if you don’t know what you’re looking for. They’re even more difficult to do anything about even when you do spot them.

It’s like this: In a casino a card counter gives themselves away by betting in a predictable way in certain circumstances. Card counting is illegal because the odds in a casino are fixed. Any attempt to manipulate those odds is illegal, and so the casino can throw you out.

At the track it’s different. First there is to timeline of betting. Someone, like this Practical Punting guy, can do his homework and come in to bet on one race only. You’d never see him coming until it’s too late and the bet is laid. Second, the odds on any horse are changing all the time. So if this guy has figured out a discrepancy between the chance of the horse winning a race and the chances we give it of winning the race he can pounce.

Those who do their homework, however, are vastly outweighed by the mug punters. Whatever we lose the Practical Punters we get back from the speculators. The difference comes down to the size of the bets. And this guy was a heavy hitter. Take one of his bets and you’d likely go bankrupt.

But it’s never good form to simply turn someone away. When that happens all you do is make them the centre of attention and next week you’ve got half a dozen punters who’ve now learned the same system. And you don’t know who they are.

I can tell you all the bookmakers keep a very close eye on systems betting guides like Practical Punting. Done properly a punter can make a lot of money before attracting attention. But get too greedy and it’s your face being passed around in the racing lounge before the day begins.

tote

The Evolution of Gaming – Insurance

And here it is, the next step in personal insurance.

The world of sport has moved online and the stars here attract as much attention as the stars on the telly every weekend. And now, it seems, they’re beginning to be treated with as much attention.

But first some background:

In ancient Phoenicia traders would approach lenders to insure against the piracy or loss of their trading ships. In the London coffee houses merchants would trade insurance bonds with one another on the safe delivery and good quality of their stock. By the 1940’s personal insurance was providing premiums against damage to homes and loss of property. This was quickly followed by a slew of insurance products covering debilitating events most likely to befall an individual. By the 1980’s one could insure cars, boats, even pets. In the 1990’s rock star David Lee Roth stunned the world by taking out paternity insurance (wouldn’t you like to read the indemnity clauses on that one!). But now the market has taken another step.

HIF were approached earlier this year about insuring an online game character. Don’t scoff, it’s big business. Many players spend years building up their characters and sell them (for real money) to other players not willing to put in the work. It’s not yet an industry. But there is a cashed-up elite who want the kudos of an impressive game character without putting in the time themselves.

The problem for the people who create these characters is that their avatars are exposed to pretty much the same risks we all are. They can get injured, punished or die just as we can. They can make bad decisions or just have bad luck.

Plus there are events to which characters are exposed that we are not. Imagine a cataclysmic outage wiping all character records from the game database (solar flares known as a Carrington Event,may achieve this); or hackers scrambling the server network: All very unlikely, yes, but still possible.

And for these few (I hesitate to call them professional) dedicated gamers this could entail the waste of years of hard work.

I know about this because the person to approach HIF is a friend. He didn’t tell me about the negotiations, or their result. But there is an ever growing concern and demand to insure against these precious online avatars.

Australian Sports Coaches: 3 Of The Best

coaches-cummings

Behind every great sportsperson is an even greater coach. A consistent motivator, who manages to be cruel and kind in the right measure. They frequently coordinate teams, uniting people in spite of personal challenges to achieve great things and inspire the masses. They have to know where individuals’ strengths, weaknesses, and limits lie, and be able to push them – just enough, but not too much.

Every sports fan has their favourite coach – the ringmaster who helped spur the fan’s favourite team on to glory and victory, and will forever be respected for their achievements. This list does not claim to be decisive or unanimous, but it does serve to demonstrate the incredible leadership skills demonstrated by three great Australian coaches.

Norma Plummer

coaches-plummerAs the head coach of Australia’s national netball team, the Diamonds, Plummer drove those in her charge to admirable success. During her eight-year tenure as the team’s coach, Plummer and the various incarnations of the Diamonds maintained a success rate of 75% across their matches. Two Commonwealth Games silver medals, and first-place finishes at both the 12th and 13th World Netball Championships were also achieved while Plummer was at the helm of the team.

The ex-player gained a reputation for being tough but fair, becoming extremely well respected by followers of the game. The admiration afforded to Plummer is indicative of the value we place on strength of character self-confidence. These same skills can be developed by undertaking executive coaching in Australia. Don’t expect to come out a netball pro, though!

Bart Cummings

Renowned equally for his magnificent, bushy white eyebrows and his status as Australia’s most successful horse trainer, Cummings is an Australian larrikin through and through. The trainer has won the Melbourne Cup a record twelve times, and continues to be a formidable presence on the racing scene to this day. The longevity displayed by Cummings is unquestionably impressive; any corporate executive would be extremely happy to undertake such a long tenure at the peak of their field. Those wishing to develop skills in persistence and stoicism should seek advice from professional services such as Lucidity Coaching.

Laurie Lawrencecoaches-lawrence

For the youth of today, Lawrence is probably best known as the face of the annual “Kids Alive, Do The 5” advertising campaign – the jingle is very catchy. In his prime, though, he was a very driven coach, with swimmers under his tutelage winning thirty-three Olympic medals between them, and also attaining twenty-three world records. Lawrence’s amiable persona helped him to forge meaningful connections with professionals swimmers, as well as others affiliated with Swimming Australia.

Even following the end of his full-time role as a swim coach, Lawrence continued to work for many years with the Australian swimming team, aiming to inspire and motivate them. The high regard in which he continues to be held is evidenced by the success of his eponymous chain of swim schools. In order to attain similarly impressive leadership skills, and to establish a meaningful rapport with workmates and the wider world, individuals could consider enrolling in small business coaching in Perth. It’s unlikely that you’ll emerge with your own line of successful swimming pools – but you never know.