Sports betting PR legend GRAHAM SHARPE writes…
ALL PUNTERS dream of placing the bet which could not possibly lose. Few of us have yet been fortunate enough to experience such a thing.
However, back in April 1999 this dream scenario became reality for punters fortunate enough to be at Newbury racecourse.
A lady, who later requested anonymity was watching a Claiming Stakes race being run at an ‘away’ meeting, Thirsk in which 15/8 favourite Disclosed Promise duly obliged, returning £3.10 for a £1 stake according to the Tote screens in the Hampshire Stand at Newbury – where people were checking the form for the next Newbury race as they queued to place their wagers.
Explained a lady who, not unreasonably, asked to remain anonymous, told the Daily Telegraph, ‘I had already had a bet on the Thirsk race, a forecast on numbers 8 and 10. I saw the race, and they did not do any good. So I was waiting to put a bet on the next race at Newbury, but the Tote screens with the Thirsk odds on had not cleared. I asked the Tote lady if she could hurry up and clear them, and she said the Thirsk race had not been run.
‘I told her it had, and that there had even been a picture of the winner with its name underneath on one of the screens. But she insisted the Thirsk race had not been run.
So I said, ‘Are you telling me the Tote is still open and, if I wanted I could have a bet?’
She pressed a button – and said, ‘Yes.’ I told her again the race had been run, but she insisted it hadn’t, so eventually I had £10 on number 9, Diamond Promise.
‘I then mentioned to a friend that they were accepting bets on a race that had already been run, and it rippled round the room – one table picked up about £160.’
The bets were duly paid out to the incredulous racegoers when the Tote machines eventually updated.
Later, a possibly slightly embarrassed Tote chief executive John Heaton admitted ‘I have to say an error was made, but I am not blaming the staff because it was a very difficult day.’
He claimed just 25 after-time winning bets had been taken, with one individual collecting over £200 of a total of ‘around £2000.’
Heaton blamed a new computer system error which had resulted in having ‘to use the old equipment, which is not as robust and during the early part of the afternoon there was clearly a problem with the old lines. We were not getting messages to and from Newbury.’
As a result, apparently the message that the Thirsk race had finished did not get through to the Tote computer at Newbury, allowing punters to continue betting.
Tote chairman, Peter Jones said, ‘We’re reviewing all our security procedures to make sure this doesn’t happen again.’
Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.