This week jump racing returns to Cheltenham with a bang.  Ahead of the season opening Showcase, we caught up with Balthazar Fabricius, CEO of Fitzdares (pictured above right, with co-founder Ben Goldsmith) to talk through his favourite race meets, Peaky Blinders and his 2017 racing tips…1. What prompted you to launch Fitzdares?We wanted to build a business that valued sportsmanship, knowledge, relationships, authenticity and style. In 2005 the industry was charging towards online poker, bingo and roulette machines in all the shops. What I’d loved about bookmaking was its heritage; its heart had been in the West End and East End, not to mention other parts of the country such as Birmingham – for those Peaky Blinders fans amongst you.

2. How does Fitzdares differentiate itself from the rest of the bookmaking industry?

We welcome the opinionated, the individual, the connoisseur. In return we offer exclusivity, discretion and a touch of sophistication. We understand what’s at stake on the bob of a head, on a shot on target. We honour the age-old relationship between bettor and bookmaker, the human rapport and the contest of knowledge and nerve. We believe that courage and daring deserve reward. But above all we believe in sportsmanship.

3. Has the economic climate affected Fitzdares in any way? Have you seen a change in your members betting habits?

We are in the luxury and leisure industries; our job is to enrich our customer’s enjoyment of sport. Given sport is a hobby that allows people to escape the day-to-day stresses of life, we tend to be kept busy whatever the weather, and whatever the state of the economy.

4. What’s next for Fitzdares?

A best of breed digital platform.

5. What do you think it is about horse racing that captures the hearts and emotions of generations?

There can be so many imponderables; the ability of the horse, jockey, trainer, the weight the horse may be carrying, the weather, the odds… it’s the World’s greatest jigsaw puzzle.

6. How does horse racing in the UK differ to the rest of the world?

The variety of racecourses is key. Each is unique and loved by race-goers for their own quirky reasons.

7. Do you have a favourite race meet and why?

Glorious Goodwood – it was a well-kept secret for a long time. But I’m just as happy at Lingfield on a Wednesday or Cheltenham on a Friday.

8. What is your all-time horse racing highlight?

‘Well Chief’ winning the Arkle at Cheltenham in 2004 would be up there. ‘Connections’* pulled a crafty one. It looked like the horse was going down a hurdling route but they did something they had executed well a few years before with Champleve in 1998; they suddenly stuck ‘Well Chief’ over fences, and backed it antepost accordingly. ‘Well Chief’ had been 33/1 for the Arkle, an unlikely target at the time, but won at The Festival a couple of months later at 9/1. ‘Beating Kicking King’, a future Gold Cup winner no less.

9. What tips would you like to share for the forthcoming Showcase at Cheltenham?

Be your own judge is the best advice I can give you. Take great satisfaction out of doing your homework, or throwing some darts, and picking them out yourself. Should you back a loser, well, at least you can only blame yourself. 

10. What 5 horses should your clients watch out for in 2017?

If you’ve heeded my advice above you won’t take a blind bit of notice of the following: Ballyoptic, Clan des Obeaux, Jenkins, Apple’s Jade, Yorkhill.


*A racing term for a horse’s owner and trainer

Fitzdares is a membership only bookmakers that offers exclusivity, discretion, a touch of sophistication and big returns. Fitzdares was founded in 2005 and is a member of Walpole and an Authorised Betting Partner of British Racing.

Skytime organises daily private charter helicopter trips from London to Cheltenham, landing within the racecourse boundary and available from £700 per person, based on a 6 people sharing a twin-engine Agusta 109.