There are seemingly no lengths that some people won’t stoop to these days – especially when there’s money to be made.
That is certainly the case in sports betting, where the development of mobile technology and super-fast 4G has enabled sharp-minded (or fraudulent, delete as appropriate) punters to ‘court side’ in order to get an edge on the bookies.
It’s harder to get a headstart on the bookmakers as far as horse racing is concerned, but one hard-working individual has given it his best shot this week.
On Wednesday, as a jumps meeting unfolded at Leicester racecourse, it was reported that a giant pole with a camera attached to the top of it was erected in the back garden of a property that overlooks the final straight of the Midlands track. Eyewitnesses reported the camera being taken down five minutes after the last race of the day had ended.
Perhaps buoyed by any success they may have enjoyed with their endeavours, a similar rig then made its way to Chelmsford on Thursday, although this time the police were called and an abrupt end to proceedings was secured.
This time, the perpetrator had parked up on the racecourse’s property, setting up his telescopic pole and camera to point at the final straight of the Essex track.
But race officials spotted the suspicious activity prior to the first race on the card, and given that the loiterer was parked on private property he was guilty of trespassing.
Sophisticated Scheme Falls Flat
A spokesman for Chelmsford takes up the story.
“We spotted this van with a massive boom on a road adjacent to the home straight, which is land that belongs to the racecourse, and we decided to investigate.
“We confronted the individual and told him he was trespassing. He didn’t believe us and stupidly he rang the police himself to confirm this. When they came the man was told to leave and the police escorted him up the A131.”
The spokesperson confirmed that the person in question was using highly sophisticated equipment in their venture, with a 30ft boom pole – often used in the world of broadcasting – hoisting a video camera high enough to deliver widescreen footage of the final bend and the home straight of the track. They also confirmed that the operator, who was sat inside his van, had a live feed on his screen and a number of laptop computers.
“We think it’s the same van that was at Leicester, where he must have rented a driveway from someone as the outriggers would have been too big to park on a public highway. These in-running gangs are known to be big business in Hull, and we believe there are others in operation in London, Hertfordshire and Wales.”
Chelmsford has been plagued by in-running betting operations in the past, with its location next to the A131 prime fodder for punters willing to park up to gain the ultimate vantage point.
Courtsiding, as it is known, has been a problem in horse racing and tennis for some time, with certain individuals able to make a full time living from the nefarious activity. It is estimated that courtsiding and in-running ‘fraud’ costs the betting industry millions every year.