Horse Racing is a wonderful sport and it is enjoyed by millions of people around the world. Though on the face of it, Horse Racing would seem to be the same no matter where it is run, nothing could be further from the truth, particularly when it comes to punting on the races.
In Australia for instance, the Horse Racing industry is highly regulated with most of the punting dollar going through Totaliser Agencies, you will find there is very little money gambled on fixed price in comparison. The opposite is true in the UK where most people bet fixed price and the industry is highly de-regulated.
There is huge competition between bookmakers in the UK and whilst this situation is also becoming commonplace in Australia, the industry is still massively dominated by the State TAB’s. (Totaliser Agency Boards).
Just as Betfair changed the landscape of betting in the UK through the introduction of a betting exchange whereby anyone can become a bookie or a punter, the same is slowly happening in Australia with Betfair setting up an operation in Tasmania, the island state.
Other differences between the 2 countries include what the British call National Hunt, this is hurdle racing and quite brutal on rider and horse, in Australia, there are hurdle races but the hurdles are fewer and much lower in height. Again, a result of a highly regulated market.
All weather tracks are also popular in the UK, these are dirt tracks which can be used in all weather conditions. In Australia, the weather in general is kinder and this form of racing is left to Harness Racing.
One of the amazing things about the UK racing scene is just how sophisticated it is for the punter, you can watch all races online live, you can place bets during the running, there are odds comparison sites galore that will give you live updates of the best odds from every bookmaker and you can even place bets through your remote control on your set top box. The UK leads the world in application of technology for gambling and Horse Racing plays a very big part in its success.
Even though electronically, the UK Horse Racing scene is more sophisticated than Australia, the Aussies beat the British hands down when it comes to facilities for the race loving public and their ability to host hugely successful Horse Racing carnivals such as the Easter and Spring Racing carnivals in Sydney and Melbourne each year.
The facilities for the public are incredible at places like Flemington in Melbourne where even the children enjoy their own play areas and the place is packed with restaurants, corporate boxes, big screens and both on and off track betting facilities.
One of the few areas of technology where the Australians do Horse Racing better is in television. At most of the big tracks, loops are installed and transponders are carried by each horse which updates live on TV showing horse position. Whilst this is being done to some extent in the UK, it is not universally accepted by all tracks and operators. In Australia, they also use 3D Graphics technology in the form of Track Bias Simulators (Channel 9 and Channel 10 in Australia did this to some success over the Easter and Spring Carnivals). Not only is Track Bias informative, when shown in this way, it becomes an integral part of the graphical presentation of the race day telecast.
In terms of television, it seems that in the UK, gambling has been the driver whilst in Australia they have attempted with varying degrees of success to make Horse Racing entertaining.
In terms of betting, there are several differences between the 2 countries, interestingly around the types of bets that are popular. For instance, Trifectas, Exactas and Quinellas are hugely popular in Australia and contribute a large percentage of all bets taken. Not the case in the UK, where spread betting is hugely popular and barely used in Australia.
Just take a look at the following list of bets offered in the UK to see what I mean about differences:
Full cover bet
Canadian or Super Yankee
Compare that with the Australian equivalent:
Roving Banker Quinella
Quaddie / Quadrella
First 4/Pick 4
Flexi-Bet (Quaddie, Trifecta, First Four
Less choices but much easier for those new to racing to understand and come to grips with.
Whatever the differences, Horse Racing remains popular in both countries and with a little effort in understanding the differences, even more enjoyment can be gleaned by following racing on both sides of the world.