Refund done in name of fairness

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 May, 2009, 12:00am

The Jockey Club's decision to refund all bets on the Jockey Challenge after the final two races were abandoned on Sunday has caused a lot of discussion among racing fans.

There were professionals, this column included, caught by surprise that there would be a mass refund to all players when there was a result that could have been declared and paid on.

When the Jockey Challenge was introduced in April last year, the rules of the game were researched from a number of overseas operators who had offered the bet type. And since abandoning races happens so rarely in Hong Kong - this was the first in the 88-meeting history of the Challenge - Sunday's experience was a new one.

It seems the most common version of player expectations was that since the Jockey Club pays out on other partially completed bet types, like the double or the treble, it would do so on the Jockey Challenge as well.

The club's move was seen by some as excessively generous, since they refunded all Jockey Challenge bets, even those which were out of winning contention at the time stewards abandoned the meeting.

The club's view, as explained to us yesterday, is that the Jockey Challenge is a bet that is decided across the full spectrum of the programme. In Sunday's case that was 10 races and therefore the context in which the bets were taken had not been met.

When stipendiary stewards cried 'no more' after race eight, Douglas Whyte was a narrow leader on the Challenge scoreboard. But Brett Prebble had a short-priced favourite, Sunrise, to come in race nine and his supporters might have felt highly miffed to do their money without that gelding having gained a start.

The club's overriding concern therefore was fairness, and the appearance of fairness. And when no one can claim to have lost a single dollar on this rain-drenched Jockey Challenge, that probably leaves only the Douglas Whyte supporters needing to be convinced.