AS the Dubai World Cup Carnival enters its second week comes news international attention on events at Meydan has taken another step forward, with access to live pictures and the opportunity to bet into official pari-mutuel pools being offered to fans in North, Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean.
For the first time, it is claimed, racing in Dubai will be available to customers using these particular pools hosted by Premier Gateway International (PGI), which operates out of Douglas, the capital of the Isle of Man, an established and highly respected centre for finance and gaming situated off the north west coast of England.
PGI lives right up to its name, being a joint venture between Phumelela Gold International, the major racing, betting and broadcasting operator in South Africa, and Tabcorp European Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of Australia’s biggest wagering company Tabcorp. You could not get much more international.
The pairing came together in a business that has actually been operated by Phumelela since 2006, the year before Tabcorp started international co-mingling of pool bets with New Zealand, and the choice of the Isle of Man to set up the wagering hub and hosting facility is an illustration of how 21st century technology knows no boundaries.
Richard Fitzgerald of RMG.
The PGI hub never sleeps. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365, or 366 in the case of this year, days a year, and offers betting on more than 130 race meetings across the world every day, as well as access to various gaming and Keno opportunities. Last year the Emirates Racing Authority (ERA) did a deal with PGI to act as host of international betting pools on the Carnival, including Dubai World Cup day.
Now the arrangement has been widened, after PGI linked up with the British-based rights holder and broadcaster Racecourse Media Group (RMG), which last November was awarded the ERA contract to produce output from Meydan. RMG, the umbrella organisation for the 34 British racecourses that hold an interest in the Racing UK television channel, has secured exclusive rights to offer races at the Carnival, leading to the new deal with PGI.
RMG chief executive Richard FitzGerald explained: “With our considerable experience in the sports media rights market, it seemed a natural next step to market the pictures to new customers on behalf of the Dubai Racing Club. We are delighted to be working with PGI.”
For PGI’s part, chief operating officer Sami Nati said: “This is an exciting development and we are looking forward to welcoming RMG’s clients into the betting pools for the Dubai racing season.”
So, everyone’s happy, and so they should be. The Carnival, which already enjoys excellent domestic and international TV coverage and is being heavily promoted by an energetic Dubai Racing Club communications department campaign on Twitter (with 18,000+ followers), Facebook and Instagram, goes ever more global.
But what does this extra reach mean for those people responsible for putting on the action? First and foremost it means that the many ERA officials involved, from stewards to starting stalls handlers, from handicapper to track superintendent, have to be on their guard just that little bit more. Any slip from the standards of excellence they have set will be spotted by an ever increasing, worldwide audience.
From entry stage to the final photo finish, the eyes of the discerning public are on Meydan, and the more they can see what is happening, and the more they bet on the outcome, the more discerning they become.
They will not stand for races being off much later than the advertised time; and last week’s Meydan opener set a very high standard, with every race recorded as being bang on the button. They will not stand for lax stewarding, and regular readers of Akhbar Al Khail, the official weekly racing calendar published on the ERA website and in this magazine, will be aware of the high level of activity that goes on in the officials’ room. We’ll excuse last week’s report from Meydan on New Year’s Day about Kilt Rock being subjected to ‘a post-rave veterinary examination’ as an unfortunate typographical error, by the way.
They will not stand by meekly in the face of unexplained improvements or regressions in form; they will not stand by without comment if they think a racing or riding style has been compromised. They may not be correct in their criticism, but that will not stop them airing a view.
Meydan’s raceday officials are not the only ones who must be on their guard to preserve high standards. The newly extended media rights deal means that more people will be watching how RMG and PGI perform.
It was probably an example of Murphy’s Law in operation; if something is going to go wrong, it will do so at the most inopportune moment, and that just 24 hours after the RMG & PGI deal was announced; Phumelela’s South African operation had to apologise to customers, when a power failure in Johannesburg delayed the declaration of dividends for various races and bets, and badly affected pool totals. Phumelela had to shut down its tote system, which in turn resulted in co-mingling partners in the Isle of Man having their bets refunded. They would not all have been winning bets, but if there’s one thing a punter hates more than backing a loser, it’s not getting a run at all.
-From Adiyat Dubai, by Howard Wright.
*Mike de Kock forwarded this article to us and commented: “This is a big and important deal for world racing. Congratulations to Phumelela and theur partners, especially John Stuart who was instrumental in setting it up.”
About the Author
Howard Wright is a correspondent for the UK’s Racing Post and international industry commentator.