Stephen Brassel Sells Himself and Racing Out – Meanwhile, Tristan Merlehan From Topsport is Just Trying to Spin, Disrupt, and Sell, Sell, Sell


It’s a sad thing to say, but the (in some places) still respected – although I don’t for one know why – racing writer Stephen Brassel has lowered himself to the cash for comment depths of John Laws and Alan Jones in his Armchair Critic column on Racenet this week, which isn’t a column at all, but rather a paid advertorial for his employer’s new sponsor posing as something real.

Allow me to show you how and why by tearing it apart.

Let’s start with Stephen…


There has been plenty said in recent times about punters frustrated with the current state of play regarding the minimum bets bookmakers are obligated to accept.

Currently bookmakers are only obliged to accept bets to lose $2000 on metropolitan meetings from 9am on race day, while on provincial and country meetings it’s $1000 minimum.

While some may lay blame with the bookmaking fraternity for such limitations only being applied from a set time on race morning, that’s not where the blame lies.

It actually lies in the legislation, and that’s certainly not beneficial to the punter.

But, in an interesting twist the ones agitating for change on this occasion aren’t punters but bookmakers.

(Over to you twistin’ Tristan Merlehan from Topsport)

We as a business would love nothing more than seeing the minimum limits kick in from the moment prices are released. We are already holding ourselves to that standard. 

Translation – We are shit scared that the merger between Bet Easy and Sportsbet, and the already existing ever-growing partnership of Neds and Ladbrokes is going to eat us, so we are trying our hardest to be disrupters so that one of the buggers will buy us, and I can get rich like that bastard Matt Tripp.

We actually feel that a number of the larger operators would be very receptive for the rules to change as well, and we feel it would give some of the smaller operators a bit more surety in the integrity of the prices being laid.

Translation – We know no other bookie is interested in betting punters to win unlimited amounts before they know the track conditions for the day, the scratchings, the rider changes, and all that jazz. We’re not really either, but trying to force others to do what we aren’t is part of our disrupter strategy.

We also want to able to bet whatever we take back with the others before the price moves. They know it too the buggers, and that’s why they won’t come to our self-promoting party, but with friendly journeys like Stephen on board, we figure that we can have a crack on shaming them into it, without our own minimum early bet policies being scrutinised or exposed.

We continually hear how a horse went up $21 and a day later it’s $5 but only a limited amount of customers can actually get set at these prices, and it is hard for punters to know if it is a genuine move by the ‘right punters’.

Translation – If a horse is backed at $21 a skyrocket should be set off to alert every Australian citizen of the bet, and each of the 25 million Aussies should be allowed to back it at that price, because that’s how capitalism and bookmaking work. We know who’s backing them, because the smart arses are backing them with us, but do you think that we’re going to tell you? F**k no! Then you might back it with us too.

We feel strongly that by tweaking the framework to ensure all bookmakers must bet to the limit from the moment prices are opened, it would create a lot more vibrancy in the market, and ensure punters are able to get set whenever they see a price they fancy, rather than holding their breath hoping the price is still there at 9am on race day.

Translation –  Other than on black type races where the form is well exposed and every runner is trying, our own minimum bet policies don’t kick in until the first call of the official odds on Saturday morning, but let’s not talk about that Stephen. Let’s talk about our ability as punting bookmakers to get set for whatever we want with these greedy, rapacious competitors with responsibilities to their shareholders. that we desperately want to buy us for $50 million or so.

Unfortunately, at present any sizeable early bet is derided in the media prior to race day, which really limits the amount of content available during the week.

Translation – I am speaking such a crock of crap that I’ve forgotten what I’m even trying to say. Give me a second to get back on track Stephen.

We as an industry need to be able to build momentum into a weekend, and by more punters being able to bet early it creates another layer of discussion which puts racing at the forefront of everyone’s mind for longer.

Translation – All punters can bet early, but we want our competitors – did I mention we are for sale at the right price? – to expose themselves to risk that we and our mates can pick holes in.

By making all of the bookmakers accountable for the markets they put up at any time we genuinely feel it would make for a much more robust, confident market which would be a positive for all parties in the industry.

Translation – We put up our markets last, so it’s only fair that we get a crack at backing the overs with our competitors and then laying them back at a guaranteed profit when we finally get around to putting out boards and prices up.

A Short Interruption For a Word From Our Publisher

These are the markets for race 1 at Sandown on Wednesday, as at 3.00am Tuesday.

The batting order is TopSport, TAB, Bet365, Neds.


Punters would be able to get set to at least the minimums whenever they like, bookmakers will deliver more efficient markets quicker and in doing so stimulate betting for longer periods.

Translation – We want to screw our potential buyers – did I mention that we’re amenable to all offers at the right price? – by forcing them to either take down their early markets, or have the eyes picked out of them by us, while out markets are still sitting in the fridge.

It would be a positive for all racing bodies with elevated turnover, which in turn protects industry funding, and protects the integrity of the data as the need for ‘bowlers’ would be reduced as all customers could bet to the minimums in their own name.

Translation – If we could get set with out bet backs and lays on Thursday and Friday then we would no longer need to operate hundreds of accounts under our friends, family, staff members and any desperate drunk on the streets that we slung a six-pack to’s name to get our bets on. And the beauty is that we would still be able to ban the winning punters and their bowlers who try to bet with TopSport.


Back to Stephen Brassel ….

Now it’s a case of watch this space as conversations continue but let’s cross our fingers the changes do occur and we get to the point where the price being bet early is the actual price you can get on for to win a decent amount.

Translation – I didn’t  really want to tell you this, and I haven’t – bloody know-nothing dickhead Archie Butterfly did – but my whole column this week is really just a cash-for-comment PR piece for Tristan Merlehan, his dad Lloyd, and their company TopSports, who joined the Racenet fold by coming on as big sponsors last week. There’s a drink in it for us when the disrupter strategy sells, a damn decent one too.


Author’s disclosure: I went to school with Dean Shannon who runs Ladbrokes and Neds, and we’re good mates. Dean has had no input into this article however, and doesn’t even know that I’m writing it. Notwithstanding our friendship, I’d write a similar article about him too if he tried to pull the same shit that Stephen Brassell and the Merlehans have.

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