'Dead cert' to cost the Club HK$2m

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 June, 2010, 12:00am

Forget currency trading, local shares or bank deposits, the Hong Kong Jockey Club will allow place and quinella betting on Sunday's Juvenile Sprint Trophy - which is likely to result in the Club handing out a 'free' HK$2 million.

The Juvenile Sprint at Sha Tin has attracted only four runners but is being billed as a 'match race' between exciting three-year-olds Entrapment and Tai Sing Yeh, who hold an overwhelming class edge on their two rivals.

Executive director of racing Bill Nader said the Club would follow the guidelines set out under the betting rules and hold 'the full gamut of place, quinella and tierce [first three] betting on the event'.

The Club runs the risk of a potential 'minus pool' through the expected heavy support for the two horses - as the betting rules provide that a minimum dividend of HK$10.50 for the quinella and HK$10.10 for the place must be paid for every HK$10 unit bet.

Effectively, no matter how much money is wagered on Entrapment and Tai Sing Yeh through the quinella pool, the minimum dividend declared is HK$10.50, or a 5 per cent return on investment over a 70-second period should they fight out the finish of the 1,200m event as is expected.

'It's hard to say what it might cost us if the favourites finish first and second,' Nader said. 'We're estimating a loss of two million dollars if the dividends reach that minimum dividend level.

'Of course if the dividends don't reach that point, the pool will be no different from any other race, but that looks unlikely.'

Investors will also plunge into the minimum 1 per cent return on either horse finishing in the first two and the support is expected to drive their price beyond the threshold required to force the minimum dividend rule.

'It has been so long since we have seen a situation like this,' Nader said. 'The last time was on September 17, 1994, when River Verdon won a four-horse race at minimum odds of $10.50 for the win and $10.50 for the place.

'The minimum dividend for the place pool has since changed to $10.10, and that may slow down investment on Sunday.' he said.

For those who backed champion River Verdon in 1994, there was little cause for concern as he bolted in by 51/2 lengths carrying a staggering 135 pounds.

What is different - and all the more exciting - about Sunday's 'match race' is the two youngsters will go head to head for the first time against two horses who have never finished better than fifth in much lower class races.

To put that into perspective, the John Size-trained Entrapment is unbeaten from six starts and is aiming to become the first horse in the modern era to win seven races in a Hong Kong season.

Tai Sing Yeh's record is also outstanding - he has won five of his seven career starts and has been the most exciting galloper at Happy Valley this season.

Betting in the win pool will no doubt be dominated by both Entrapment and Tai Sing Yeh - with divided opinion on the better horse creating a competitive market.

This will ensure the two start at well above the minimum win dividend (HK$10.50) as punters get behind their favourite youngster, while little is expected to be held on maiden gallopers Danewin Tiger and Just Good from the Almond Lee stable.

The quinella and place pools, however, will be inundated with money supporting the two favourites to finish in the first two placings - a result that could see the Jockey Club handing out 'free money' to punters.