FlexiBet still bedding down after first meeting
With no figures released on the success or otherwise of Monday's FlexiBet launch, we were left to reflect on the arrival of the betting changes through the limited prism of the place pool.
To the naked eye, punters appeared to have embraced the change in the early stages of the meeting.
Place pools, on average, are roughly 80 per cent of the size of the win pool, though the devil is in the detail there. For the two pools are usually closer than that in the early races before their paths diverge in the second half of the card, and that has long been the case as punters generally shed their conservatism as the day progresses.
On Monday, the new place betting pools were around 90 per cent of the win pool early in the day, but by the final race the place was holding less than 75 per cent of the win total. So the final year-on-year overall drop of HK$6 million to HK$125 million bet on the place all day may not be all that meaningful as the new system beds down - or a continued trend that way may indicate that punters' love of a hot favourite is being betrayed by the fairness of the new calculations in favour of non-favourite backers.
In dividend terms, there a couple of good examples of the better value the latter group can expect.
The fifth race was a classic. With the clear first two choices in betting, Baazigar and Best Power filling placings, punters on the runner-up, 10-1 chance Connoisseur's Love, would have subsidised the backers of the other two under the old system
Instead of $28.00 a place for the second horse, the payout using the same betting figures would have been around $23.00. Baazigar's supporters, though, would have been happier under the old method with around $17.50 instead of $15.50 and Best Power's backers with $18.50 rather than with $17.50.
Likewise, the ninth race under the new regime brought a less-palatable result for the backers of the first two, Quick Touch and Mutual Fun at $12.50 and $16.50 respectively, but a fairer dividend for Wei Hai Invincible's supporters at $33.50.
Under the old system, a place bettor supporting Wei Hai Invincible was looking at only $24.50, with the 'missing' part of that place dividend being paid to Quick Touch ($15.50) and Mutual Fun ($17.50) backers. And the longest priced place payout of the day - $408 for Splendid Sails - would only have been about $312 under the old calculation.
The bottom line is that backing the obvious for the place, favourite punters are no longer being propped up unreasonably by everyone else and are receiving a fairer dividend - however unpopular.
Longer term, it's a question of whether such fairness is in the eye, or payout, of the beholder.
Place pools, on average, are roughly this per cent of the size of the win pool: 80