Flexi-Bet system worth considering
Notwithstanding that last Sunday's Triple Trio wipeout will bring us the most substantial jackpot for quite some time this week, the Jockey Club needs to address the problem of diminishing exotic pools.
As we have pointed out before, the marvellous exotic pools which characterise Hong Kong race wagering in the wider world are being eroded, perhaps by the standard bets which are attracting rebates this season.
Only a few years ago, jackpot TT pools in excess of HK$38 million were frequent.
A jackpot of that size now, however, is rare because 'fresh' TT pools of HK$4-HK$5 million take longer to get there than fresh pools of double that size in days gone by.
If the Jockey Club was able to restructure its rebate system to apply to more bettors in more pools, that might help but those propositions appear unlikely in the foreseeable future and something else has to be tried.
Even the big professional syndicates have reduced their outlays on TT bets as the pools shrink, so it's a vicious cycle.
On returning from the Melbourne Cup carnival in November, outgoing chief executive Larry Wong Chi-kong said he had made some helpful 'discoveries'.
Unfortunately, the uninspired First Four bet was one of them, but another was an idea of which Australian racing has made good use, which has better application in the Hong Kong environment and should be high on the club's list of ideas to investigate.
Called the Flexi-Bet, it allows the customer to nominate a total spend for a bet rather than specify betting units, and professionals here believe the future health of the Triple Trio, Double Trio, and the like, may depend on successful implementation of a similar idea.
It works this way. Say the punter likes six runners for a tierce. To take a multiple bet 'boxing' all six all ways for a HK$5 ticket would cost HK$600, to receive 50 per cent of the declared dividend. But the punter decides that all he or she wants to spend is HK$200 and so doesn't bet at all rather than leave out the wrong one.
With a Flexi-Bet, that punter marks on the ticket that he or she wants the six runners all ways for a total outlay of HK$200. Printed on the ticket then will be the information that, if successful, the punter's collect will be one-sixth or 16.667 per cent of the declared dividend.
It has limitless application but looks more attractive the more complex the bet. Want to try for the big bucks and take a banker with five horses in every leg of the TT but don't want to spend more than HK$500? Go ahead. At the moment, with a minimum bet cost of HK$2 a combination, it costs HK$2,000 and you get 20 per cent of the dividend if correct. That might put people off.
With a Flexi-Bet, you can have the same bet for your HK$500. You'll get only five per cent of the dividend but most punters know that 5 per cent of a TT win can be a lot of money, and a lot more than you were going to get if the bet cost too much and you didn't bother at all.