Surf & Turf: Pokemon Go goes where the Jockey Club has been before

 By Robin Gibson 12:00PM 19 JUL 2016 

OBVIOUSLY the big thing since last time is Pokemon Go. It’s the AR (augmented reality – keep up) game that lets you hunt the old-hat cartoon critters on the streets of your town. It reportedly already has more users than Twitter in the US. A big USP is that it “forces players to wander through the physical world”. Radical!

Some of this wandering, clearly undertaken by novices, has been reckless. Police in New Jersey have warned citizens whose reality has been augmented by a biff to the head, or worse, that: “Normally you wouldn’t go to a deserted alley at 3am. That shouldn’t change just because an app said you should.”

It would be sad if the catastrophic impact of actual reality caused the downfall of PG but, for the time being, everyone’s a wanderer.

It’s turned out creepy for people who live in converted churches. The virtual Pokemon ‘gather’ at these buildings (out-of-date street maps, apparently), thus attracting stupefied humans, who wander up and mill around outside your dwelling at all hours. Nothing new if you live in south London.

At this rate, as Bob (@In_Ludo_Veritas) points out, it won’t be long before the 2m hurdle at Plumpton is disrupted by wandering gamers chasing Pokies up the final furlong.

Bob also flags that punters, in Australia at least, can bet on where ‘legendary’ (don’t ask) Pokemon will be found in Sydney. Hyde Park is favourite, the Opera House second. You have to wonder if some at developer Niantic Labs might stand to benefit.

It all brought to mind Racing Explained, the Jockey Club Racecourses AR app from about 18 months ago. Who would have thought JCR would be so far ahead of the game? Well, anyone who reads Surf & Turf. They know that far from the drool-encrusted, tweed-wrapped toffs of myth, the JC are more cutting edge than a Channel 4 documentary on poultry shears.

Yes! Racing Explained was just like Pokemon Go, enabling you and your phone to wander parts of the racecourse you might not otherwise have reached, like Mama J’s contemporary Italian cuisine at Market Rasen.

I say ‘was’, because Racing Explained, like an unconverted church, has fallen into disuse. And that’s not because Lincolnshire police have warned punters to avoid Mama J’s. No, RE just never took off.

What causes these untrends? RE was well received at launch. You can only conclude timing is everything. The Jockey Club were too far ahead and now RE is like an abandoned Sinclair C5 on the hard shoulder, with Teslas roaring past. It still lists Aintree as home of the Crabbie’s Grand National, and no-one got round to doing the augmenting for poor Nottingham: “Nottingham will be appearing in time for racing next season.”

Mind you, where are the Teslas? Google “horseracing augmented reality” and it’s clear there’s been little advance.

Top result is from Innovate UK, offering a £25,000 award to develop an AR racing app. But that is from about 2013 (Innovate UK’s website not, seemingly, being a practicer of what it preaches). It might even have been won by Racing Explained. (an affiliate betting site) addresses the issue, concluding: “Being able to point your phone at a horse and getting the name, jockey, current odds and an opportunity to bet with a tap of the screen? This would make life so much easier.”

Well, how can you put this? YES, IT WOULD. It’s curious that an AR racing app is not yet in store. One exists. Go to Vimeo, the poncy Farrow & Ball of video sites, and search “augmented reality meets racing”. There’s a prototype produced for the Hong Kong Jockey Club by the German company Figge+Schuster quite a while ago.

Guess what? It’s really good. You can easily picture yourself pointing it at a saddlecloth. Go on, someone, do it.

A few light years ago I pointed out the website of shrewd Newmarket trainer Julia Feilden and its excellent picture of a dog forking hay, unequalled to this day. has now been transformed into a slick and modern affair. It’s an exemplary site with clean lines and lots of info – well worth a look, not just for punting insight.

The team page has been boosted and features a good standard of comedy. The forking dog, now assistant trainer, has been joined by another smaller one, who handles health and safety in a high-vis jacket. There are other four-legged employees too. I think they all live in, but it doesn’t say.

They’ve seen the
future – it’s stupid

Review: Bookee betting app

For iPhone (Android “coming soon”)

First impressions Clean, neat, ultra-simple sports betting app.

What they say “The ultimate casual betting experience. Discover bets by swiping Bookee’s unique Bet Deck and place them with the flick of a finger.”

What punters say “Have used a number of apps but none as simple” (Dantheman3232). Can’t find a bad review – but then there are only nine.

What’s good It’s easy. Just flip through preset bets until you find one you like. Interesting if you’re about three.

What’s bad Casual betting? What – just handing over your cash? On the home page, Southampton to win the Premier League, 100-1. On ‘Discover Deck’, first up is Southampton to finish top four (12-1). Moving away from Hampshire, there’s Atalanta to win Serie A (750-1). If you have a bet in mind keep swiping until it appears. Who would adopt this strategy? It’s the ultimate app for an ‘interest’ bet (aka a ‘don’t-have-a’ bet) on something you are not interested in, like Southampton. Football only, no multiples, predetermined bets of 50p or £5. I backed Hull to draw with Leicester on August 13. Well, it’s something to look forward to.

Marks 1/5
They’ve seen the future of betting, and it’s stupid. Or at least casual.

Email [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @surfnturfRP

Horse Racing News | Racing Post

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