A Look at Tic Tac Men Today

Though not seen very often today, tic tac men used to be a pivotal aspect of UK horseracing. Smartly dressed men once waited near the finish line, communicating with colleagues around the stands with quick-moving hand gestures.

Even today, tic tac men sometimes use traditional signs to communicate last-minute updates from the race to bookmakers. In the past, they were considered entertaining figures in their own right. Some tic tac men even used deceptive gestures to throw off rival bookmakers looking to use their updates for their lines.

Today, horse racing tips and predictions are left to remote pundits and analysts who provide insights before races. Though many bookmakers also offer live updates, most use tech from cellphones to two-way radios. Still, white-gloved tic tac men remain an important part of the UK horseracing experience for many.

Even though technology has made the old form of communicating with hand gestures, some professionals are happy to keep the old days going—and racetrack officials often let them take their place near the finish line.

Hand Gestures & Vocabulary

While tic tac men are still culturally relevant to the racetrack, there are more efficient ways for colleagues to communicate from different positions around the track. Still, hand gestures were used to indicate terms for odds, which were also highly specialized.

For example, 33-1 odds can be communicated by crossing the arms over the chest and placing the hands flat against the chest. Verbally, 33-1 odds are described as a ‘double carpet’. In gesturing, 10-1 odds are communicated by placing the fists together and raising the right thumb. Verbally, bookmakers call 10-1 odds a cockle.

Though the future of hand gestures isn’t secure, these terms are still used frequently by bookmakers who cover horseracing in the UK.

Hand Gestures & Significance

Thinking of heading to the tracks anytime soon? Check out the hand gestures still in use by tic tac men today—you may recognize a few next time you head to a race with a tic tac professional on standby.

Here they are in order of difficulty:

  • Right fist above left fist: odds are 50-1
  • Arms crossed, hands flat against chest: odds are 33-1
  • Both hands on face: odds are 5-2
  • Both hands on to of the head: odds are 9-2
  • Right hand to left ear: odds are 6-4
  • Fists together, right thumb upward: odds are 10-1
  • Hands in front, wave right hand above left: odds are 4-1

Navarro Pleads Guilty on Giving Horses Performance Enhancing Drugs

Former jockey Jorge Navarro, who pleaded guilty (August 2021) to charges that he gave performance-enhancing drugs to horses he rode in more than 50 races, faces a maximum of five years if sentenced (currently serving 18months). All of his races included sham bets on NetBet and hence, declared out of order. He rode at Santa Anita Park; also pleaded guilty to conspiring with the owners of racehorses to administer performance-enhancing drugs to the horses.

Navarro’s findings are part of “Operation Equine,” a federal investigation culminating in charges against 21 people related to the high-profile case, including six trainers, four owners, five veterinarians and one drug company. He recommended lifetime disqualifications for Navarro, who once won the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Belmont Park in New York City, and for three other defendants, including two veterinarians.

Navarro’s admissions came as the sport’s ruling body, the International Federation for Horseracing Authorities (IFHA), announced details of two-year bans handed down to three international veterinarians – Navarro, Antonio Salazar and Urbano Villanueva – for their roles in the scheme, which has seen at least five horses sent to slaughter and countless others linked to positive drug tests. In 2019, a Maximum Security guard and jockey, Jason Servis, won the Kentucky Derby for a filly, the Maximum Security’s second win in the iconic race. His name came up in the Navarro case.

Horse racing is one of the most popular gambling activities in the United States. More than 8,000 horse races are held each year at thoroughbred tracks. Millions of Americans attend these races, and hundreds of millions more watch them on television or visit Internet sites dedicated to horseracing.

Banned UK sports doctor Navarro previously worked with a string of famous thoroughbreds before being arrested after painstaking efforts by the UK’s National Crime Agency. The FBI later raided his California offices, seizing close to a dozen horses and millions in assets. In exchange for a lighter sentence, Navarro has been cooperating with investigators to help track the flow of money used to buy horses abroad that could then be raced in the US.

Jorge Navarro, 35, has his hearing fast approaching December 17th, determined at the Manhattan Federal court. Federal authorities described the scheme in court papers as a general international operation in which horses were routinely injected with steroids and other drugs to enhance their performance. The documents said that in one race alone in 2010, the Navarros and others shipped in 21 horses with drugs in their systems.

The judge accepted a plea agreement between the defence and the prosecution. Navarro agreed to pay $25.9 million, which is equal to his winnings tied to doping. Navarro, who had the facade of a successful trainer, was, in fact, a reckless fraudster. Navarro’s lawyer (Kreiss) said his client accepted responsibility for his actions.

Prosecutors said Navarro trained and doped horses using XY Jet, a thoroughbred who won Dubai’s 2019 Golden Shaheen race. The horse died last year of a perceptible heart attack.

On the track, Navarro was notorious for placing bets that were so small, and game officials called them “nickel and dimers.” But Navarro’s winning horses couldn’t be ignored. As jockeys competed in the Belmont Stakes in 2008, it became clear that one horse was far ahead of the others. The chemical known as XY Jet, which is considered illegal in much of the world, had been detected in the horse, Court documents stated.

The history of horseracing in the United States is long, colourful, and varied. During the colonial period, racing was the most popular type of gambling in North America. It has its roots in ancient Greece and Rome, where people gathered around tracks to place bets on human athletes engaged in foot races. Horseracing also evolved from man’s relationship to his horse, a companion to humankind for thousands of years. The indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere developed their horse racing traditions.

It contributed (s) billions of dollars to local and state tax revenue and provided well-paying jobs to people in surrounding communities. The horse racing industry promotes the economic growth of pari-mutuel facilities and surrounding hotels, housing communities, retail establishments, restaurants, and real estate development projects.



Grassroots Championships at Badminton Get a Boost with New Sponsorship

Voltaire Design, a brand in itself, is the new title sponsor of British Eventing’s (B.E.) grassroots championships at Badminton Horse Trials in May 2022. In the agreement, Voltaire Design will also become an Official Supporter of B.E. and will receive extensive media coverage at all B.E. events. Horse racing enthusiasts will now have the opportunity to place bets on their favourite horses at one of two NetBet Sport slots locations. Voltaire Design is a leading manufacturer of equestrian clothing and accessories, including all types of leather riding gear.

The BE90 and BE100 finals are scheduled for 3rd to 4th May before the CCI5 action at the Gloucestershire event. The finals will return to Badminton in 2022 and will be known as the Voltaire Design Grassroots Championships. The two finals have been rebranded to reflect the championship’s grassroots origins and celebrate the fact that many of the players have played at a higher level since their inception.

Jane Tuckwell, event director of Horse Racing, said they are very grateful to Voltaire Design for their sponsorship. B.E. chief executive Helen West gladly acknowledged how the organisation is “extremely excited” about the championships’ returning to Badminton come next spring. She said: “This is an extremely exciting development in the horse racing industry.”

The championships have an extremely loyal following, with fans eagerly awaiting each year’s event to see the best come together at the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials. B.E. is delighted to be working with Badminton House and looks forward to seeing the event grow in popularity. “The Horse of the Year Show is recognised as the pinnacle of international equestrian sport,” she said. “With Badminton being the only location that has been able to deliver this historical event in recent years, we are extremely excited at returning there for 2022 to celebrate the Year of the Horse.”

With horses and riders travelling to eventing’s pinnacle event, Badminton Horse Trials, for the first time in ages, Badminton has announced its partnership with Voltaire Design to produce unique retail items featuring the five-star label. This exclusive collaboration will see pieces using the Badminton Horse Trials logo – including mugs, coasters and T-shirts – made available in select outlets across England during September and October.

“The Grassroots is a national and international racing venue, and we felt it was the perfect location for this prestigious event. It has an aura and excitement that will reflect the vital input provided by the volunteers and grassroots racers who make horse racing such a success in Britain.” Said Matt Tarrant, managing director Voltaire Design.

With growing numbers of people keeping horses, eventing continues to be an appealing sport on the grassroots level. For the first time, elite-level sponsorship is now on its way to the grassroots scene, thanks to Voltaire Design’s title sponsorship of British Eventing.

Fairfax & Favor will also act as the title sponsor of all British Equestrian’s international Grand Prix events, including the premier show Jumping Horseshoe, to be held this year for the first time at Bramham International Horse Trials (16th -20th December). Haygain, which started in France in 2009, has become an established brand across Europe thanks to its exceptional fertiliser products and growing partnerships with horse enthusiasts.

Fairfax & Favor have been making handmade premium leather belts and footwear since 1851, and their quality and cutting-edge designs make them an excellent choice for the Equestrian community.

Cheltenham Racecourse, England. Jumps racing is a highlight of the early jumping season in the U.K. The course bypasses the middle section of the main Cheltenham course and is a right-handed, mile and a half circuit around fields and water features with many tight turns and undulations. In addition to the featured Gold Cup, numerous races are offered during jumps weeks, most notably the Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup Handicap Chase, the feature race on the closing day of jumps week.

“Felicity is a fantastic young rider, and we are excited to see her compete on the Hy horse and rider products in 2022.” Said Jane Tuckwell.

The British event rider crew, part of the Eventing Nation, is delighted to announce that she has signed a sponsorship deal with Chedington Equestrian, her title sponsor. Upton has been sponsored by the U.K.’s leading saddlery and equipment retailer for over 18 years – and now she’s set to embark on a new challenge with the brand.


What is the Draw Bias in Horse Racing?

Unlike the National Hunt racing, Flat races use starting stalls in an attempt to give each horse an equal start. This is much better than a standing start, which does happen infrequently, when the ground is very soft or the stalls are broken or malfunction. Horses racing over any distance can be ill prepared for a flag start (standing start), turning at the wrong time or not paying attention, which is a major disadvantage over a 5f sprint.

It is literally the difference between winning and losing. Even with the use of starting stalls, a horse that starts quickly can gain an easy lead and advantage. Horses are allocated their draw position randomly and all draws are not equal. So if your horse is lucky it may have a good draw and if not a poor draw. This is what we would call a draw bias.

For example, a race run over a straight course may not have any particular draw advantage. However, as many races take place on turning courses then there may be a plus or negative to being drawn high or low.

We can take the principle of a bias to other forms of entertainment and aspects of chance too. For instance many casino goers just go on whichever game personally draws them in and base their way on that. However if you’re attuned to the casino world and the many sites around such as those mentioned in this scotsman.com article, you’ll know that there are varying degrees of bias to the ‘house’ (casino) depending on the game. Also known as the ‘house edge’, and the smaller this edge is the less advantage over the player the casino holds.

For instance, my personal favourite casino game, roulette has a comparatively small house edge of 2.5% (for a wheel with one zero). It’s not difficult to work out, as the odds offered for a simple number is 35-1, but there a 37 numbers of the roulette wheel. Understandably the odds get markedly worse for a double zero wheel. The odds of games like Slot differ widely so it’s best to check on the machine in question (anywhere from 2 – 10% usually) and the Poker edge is typically around 1.5%. For hours of fun with a very marginal edge you can also play Blackjack (one deck – 1.5%). It’s a quick and easy game to play and pick up both online and off. With a sensible strategy and bankroll strategy (not to mention the online sign up bonuses some casino sites offer) you’re already off to a good start. In any case, back to bias in the horse racing sense..

Chester racecourse is not only the oldest racecourse still in operation but it is the smallest in England, an oval shape covering a distance of 1 mile and 1 furlong. At this course, in particular, a low draw is a big advantage because it is the equivalent of running round a bend, like a staggered start. A high draw here is the equivalent of running farther. The betting for individual horses is often dependent on the draw.

Each and every of the 60 racecourses in the UK have their idiosyncrasies and the draw bias is just one of the crucial factors to whether the horse you bet may win or lose.

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