Gathering intelligence and piecing it all together is at the heart of the BHA’s intelligence function.
Each month, the BHA Integrity team handles hundreds of pieces of intelligence. Trivial in isolation, any one piece of intelligence could be a crucial stepping stone in the overall process of developing a bigger picture.
Every piece of information received by the Integrity team is logged, assessed, graded and linked where necessary to other pieces of intelligence. Not everyone with valuable information is bound by the rules to assist the Integrity team, but all are invited to submit in strict confidence anything they think will help keep the sport on the right side of the line.
The safest and most secure way to submit information is through RaceWISE where a person can use the anonymous online reporting form or call 08000 852 580 to report any offences and help the BHA keep racing clean.
RaceWISE anonymous reporting service covers four critical areas:
- the Welfare of racehorses
- protecting the Integrity of the sport
- addressing Safeguarding and welfare concerns
- maintaining Equality for everyone
The gathering of intelligence is an on-going, never-ending process. The Integrity team runs a full intelligence database, along the lines of those used by law-enforcement agencies, while the betting and racing analysts spend their days profiling horses and connections about whom there are, or might be, integrity concerns.
All members of the team regularly monitor social media and networking sites for further information. When intelligence is received that corroborates or enforces the views of the analysts monitoring the racing, it becomes a priority for further development. Often, it is the intelligence that drives the process.
Throughout the day, from early in the morning when most betting firms go up with their prices, the BHA betting analysts monitor the markets for any signs of unusual activity. This takes place across all the modern betting platforms, and analysts can also call upon bespoke monitoring software to drill down and understand the emerging picture.
Notwithstanding the fact that betting organisations have a duty under their licence conditions to report suspicious betting to the BHA and the Gambling Commission, the BHA will consider sharing information with the Gambling Commission ahead of any suspected coup, or in the case of particularly unusual betting patterns. This will often take the form of simply alerting them to the facts as the BHA understands them in order that they can act as they see appropriate. The BHA is often pressed to make statements in such circumstances, but confidentiality normally needs to be exercised – especially when there is a good chance that a full investigation might follow.
As well as the betting markets, the BHA’s analysts also study the races themselves, using speed maps and a database provided by an industry-leading software company to establish the likely shape of races, both from a performance perspective and a betting angle.
Working with raceday teams
Before racing, the BHA’s Integrity team will update the professional Stipendiary Stewards at each racetrack with betting information, and highlight to them any potentially unusual activity or horses to be wary of or vigilant about, based on the emerging intelligence and profiling work. Post-race, the Integrity team can advise the Stewards on any issues about runners and/or rides that concern them, and on occasion can request action before a race, when betting patterns are especially unusual. On rare occasions, a pre-race Stewards’ enquiry is held, which can disrupt a potentially corrupt event by letting those involved know the BHA is aware of what is going on.
As well as the Stewards, the Integrity team also works closely with other raceday officials, including Equine Welfare and Integrity Officers who are regularly briefed by the integrity unit to consider issues around horses’ arrival on the racecourse. This can be a valuable source of information relating to time of arrival, how the horse arrives and its general condition and wellbeing.
The Integrity team also works with the BHA’s Veterinary team, most obviously in the area of pre- and post-race testing, and testing-in-training, but also in cases where information received suggests there might be welfare or veterinary issues around a particular horse or yard. If the Integrity team suspects a trainer might be issuing spurious self-certifications for non-runners, it has the power to send a vet to the yard to ensure all is above board.
The team also liaises closely with the BHA Handicappers. Each is assigned his or her own group of horses to monitor, assess and rate for handicapping purposes, and as such knows the horses in their own group inside-out. If a Handicapper sees a ride they don’t like or suspect may need further investigation, they can contact the Integrity team about it.