Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cyber Horses Could Net Punters a Lara Lara Cash

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cyber Horses Could Net Punters a Lara Lara Cash

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID BOND

EVEN back in 1967, the last time racing was hit by a bout of foot-and-mouth, desperate punters were able to turn to computers for their daily fix.

In fact, it was the Evening Standard who resorted to staging the all electronic Massey-Ferguson Cup using a computer to analyse past form and come up with a winner.

So, more than 30 years on and in a world where virtual adventurer Lara Croft is considered "real" enough to be a sex symbol, surely technology could provide us with an alternative racing calendar.

Perhaps the future lies in cyber-generated horses which we could all watch on our home PCs and laptops. At least they wouldn't be vulnerable to disease.

But, according to racing experts, there is just no substitute for the real thing.

"I'm not sure it would catch the public's imagination in the same way," said Neal Wilkins from offshore bookmakers Victor Chandler International.

"And at the moment we have got no plans to start running virtual races.

But I suppose if racing's going to be off for a considerable length of time then we might consider it. At least you wouldn't have to worry about diseases spreading."

Graham Sharpe, from William Hill, said: "We're not desperate yet and there's still plenty of real action for people to bet on."

Last year, Victor Chandler staged a virtual Grand National at an internet cafe in London.

Using the same method as the Evening Standard in 1967, they pumped form data into a computer to predict the outcome. …

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