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Vital cog in the betting market.

STARTING PRICE returners are the most important journalists on the racecourse as far as betting shop punters are concerned and, in big races, the direction of many thousands of pounds is influenced by their decisions.

Settling on an SP of 2-1 rather than 15-8 or 9-4 can make a huge difference in the balance of trade between bookmaker and client. This puts a premium on the integrity of those doing the work.

There is a team of SP reporters spread across the country employed by two companies, the Press Association, the national news agency, and Mirror Group newspapers. Wilkins heads the PA team.

Both organisations have an SP reporter at all meetings. They monitor activity in the ring, normally splitting the area in two, and pool their information immediately the race is off.

They then find an average price for each runner which is relayed to a waiting SIS reporter who in turn transmits the SP to betting shops.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 28, 1998
Words:159
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