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first_imgShare on Twitter Talking Horses Share via Email And yet these 13 punters were, in theory at least, responsible for the starting prices at which many thousands of bets were settled, in Britain’s betting shops in particular. The most recent report from the Starting Price Regulatory Committee, which oversees the SP system, is for 2016 and suggests that “some half of current bets” are conducted at SP. What “some half” actually means is anyone’s guess, as the SP is increasingly irrelevant online, where punters tend to notice it only when their selection drifts and wins, and they benefit from a “Best Odds Guaranteed” concession. But even on a bleak Friday in early March, the amount of cash changing hands on an SP basis around the country will have been significant. How an on-course market made up of a baker’s dozen of punters and, perhaps, a smattering of owners can be expected to generate SPs that are “produced with integrity, fairness and transparency” – as the SPRC likes to put it – is beyond me. But then, what is a reasonable ratio of punters to bookies if you are looking for credibility in the SP? Fifty punters per book? Or maybe 100? Taking 100 punters per bookie as a minimum, Southwell alone staged 49 meetings in 2017 that failed the test. Even being generous and allowing for 50 punters per bookie as enough to make a meaningful on-course market, there were 15 meetings where the ratio ranged from 27:1 to 49:1. The ratio dropped below 50:1 for 12 all-weather meetings at Lingfield, 18 at Wolverhampton and 14 at Newcastle, though only one at Kempton Park (which the Jockey Club hopes to bulldoze). The reality, of course, is that on-course bookies at these meetings are logged on to Betfair and simply adding a little margin to the odds on the machine. It is also only fair to point out that the over-rounds at last Friday’s meeting were far from excessive, ranging from 112% to 105%. But that is not really the point. When a market is as weak as the on-course market at many all-weather meetings, and can be the tail that wags a much more significant dog, then it is open to abuse and, sooner or later, someone will abuse it. The BHA has shown little inclination to address the issue in the past, a complacency that may, at some point, come back to haunt it. Share on LinkedIn Show Reuse this content The attendance at Southwell on Tuesday should be a little better than last Friday’s crowd for a hastily-arranged “jumpers bumpers” meeting, but then it could hardly be much worse. Around 400 paying customers – the standard crowd for an all-weather Tuesday at the Nottinghamshire track – are expected to turn up, which is nearly 400 more than the 13 who paid through the gate four days ago.When trainers, owners and stable staff are taken into account, the “crowd” at Southwell last Friday was probably around 100 in all, but most of those will have been at the track to work, rather than bet. So with only three bookmakers standing in Tattersalls, there were effectively only four paying punters for every bookie. Was this helpful? Horse racing blogposts Share on Messenger Horse racing tips Thank you for your feedback. Southwell2.20 Crosse Fire 2.50 Avocet (nb) 3.20 Samtu 3.50 Hisar 4.20 Chaucer’s Tale (nap) 4.50 Princess Way 5.20 Mimic’s Memory  Read more Read more Quick guide Tuesday’s tips, by Greg Wood Since you’re here… Sceau Royal ruled out of Cheltenham Festival because of injury The Recap: sign up for the best of the Guardian’s sport coverage Support The Guardian Hide Share on Facebook Topics Chaucer’s Tale (4.20) looks the pick of the prices on Tuesday’s only surviving card. Mick Easterby’s runner has yet to record a victory on the Fibresand, but he has shown useful form on all three of his previous starts at Southwell and only just failed to record his second win of the winter campaign when dropped back to seven furlongs at Wolverhampton last time. That was just the 10th start of Chaucer’s Tale’s career and his best run yet, and today’s return to a mile should suit. Avocet (2.50) was an easy winner on her Southwell debut last month, has won again since and will be very hard to beat back on Fibresand, while Mimic’s Memory is another Southwell regular who looks to have dropped to a winning mark. Share on WhatsApp Share on Pinterest … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. 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