The feel good story of Cheltenham: “11 year old child gambles”

  • Updated
  • By Max Wright
ITV Racing Cheltenham Child
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This has been a big week for horse racing fans as Cheltenham Festival is well under way, ending this Friday 18 March. For those watching, it’s an opportunity to get stuck in and bet on the horses, with every major sports book operator offering promotions.

ITV have been running coverage of the event all week, and even offering their own ways to gamble, like the Lucky 7 in conjunction with Sky Bet. There have likely been some massive wins over the first 3 days of the event, and many, many losses, so it’s a little strange that ITV is choosing to celebrate the story of an 11 year old child gambling by proxy and winning big.

I’ll describe the video to explain what’s going on below, but first, go and watch it at the link below:

In the video, which was broadcast live on ITV and re-posted to the ITV Racing twitter page, 11 year old Kian McNally (known among the racing scene as “Tubbs”) is being interviewed by pundit Oli Bell.

Kian is the son of Irish jockey Ronan McNally, and was bought on with the pundits to discuss his father’s horse The Jam Man, who was due to race soon after. However, before getting down to discuss the horse, Oli asks Kian about a £100 accumulator bet he had asked his mum to put on, which came in and won her £1,900.  

The pundits laugh and joke with Kian, before pivoting directly into more gambling odds, even letting Kian talk over them about why his dad's horse is the one to bet on. It’s a little dystopian to see a child talking over a board of odds, and stranger still that the story has been met with a positive reaction by the press.

The Sun’s article calls Kian a “genius child prodigy” and a “top class tipster”, with the Daily Star sharing its own article on the matter too.

The big question to ask here is: Why are ITV allowed to glorify and celebrate this 11 year old child betting by proxy, and why are newspapers like The Sun happy to do the same when they are usually so hell-bent on demonising the industry? 

In December 2020, the Sun ran an article expressing worry that teens are losing money on black market, unlicensed casino sites, however an 11 year old gambling via his mother is worthy of celebration. It’s strange that these papers think that more high profile events, like The National Lottery or The Grand National are seemingly fine to gamble on, but also believe the casino industry needs tighter restrictions.

Imagine, for a second, that a child was choosing roulette numbers, or playing slot machines. Not that you’d need to stretch your imagination that far, as most kids in the UK are playing slot machines every time they go to the seaside. 

It seems that the british public has its head screwed on tightly though, with most reactions to the video on twitter being that of horror or disappointment, with one commenter rightly saying "This level of normalisation is both shocking & dangerous".