ConText: Lay

I'm betting this isn't about eggs. Not unless we're talking about golden eggs.

I'm betting this isn't about eggs.Not unless we're talking about golden eggs.

Ok, lay it on me, then.In the world of horse racing, everybody wants to back a winner, but for an increasing number of online punters, laying to lose is becoming the more lucrative option.

So you can get rich by picking a loser?The growth of online betting has seen a huge jump in the practise of lay betting, ie, betting that a horse will lose. Unlike your regular high street turf accountants, where you bet against the bookie, online betting sites such as Betfair allow punters to bet against each other. So if one user backs a certain horse to win, another user can give odds on that horse losing.

Sounds like a safe bet to me.Not entirely - the practise of lay betting has come under criticism because of the increased risks of race-fixing. Apparently, it's easier to fix it so a horse loses than to make it win, and some people, it has been suggested, are willing to go that extra furlong to make sure their horse comes in anywhere but first.


So, how do you race to lose?You could try any number of sneaky tactics, such as taking your time removing the horse's hood at the starting gate, or deliberately running your horse into the line of other horses, thus impeding his progress and causing him to lose valuable time. You'd have to get the jockey to do the dirty work, though.

Doesn't sound very sporting, but why is this in the news?Six people are up in court in the Old Bailey on charges of race-fixing, including top jockey Kieren Fallon and a big-time gambler named Miles Rodgers. All six deny the charges.

Where does the Clare man fit in?It's alleged that Fallon, who lives in Co Tipperary, tried to lose races in a scam amounting to £2.2 million. He has been accused of acting under instructions from Rodgers, via coded text messages. One text message allegedly read: "6.55 no 4 n", which the prosecution says is a reference to the 6.55 race at Goodwood. Fallon's defence counsel, however, says that during the time of the alleged fraud, the champion jockey's win rate was up from his normal average of 19 per cent to around 29 percent - 150 per cent higher than usual, according to his QC.

What are the odds on that?Fallon's defence counsel says it's ridiculous that "a man described as the greatest jockey of his generation ends up unable to help winning when he is trying to lose".

Now, if I were a betting man. . . I wouldn't bet against the Clare man.

Try at work:Ok, which of you clowns lay money on us going bankrupt?

Try at home:I'll lay a fiver Dad loses this argument.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist