Ladbrokes is a world leader in the betting and gaming industry with over
2,700 betting market in the UK, Ireland, Belgium
and Spain and over
800,000 active online consumers.
The Ladbrokes StoryIn the beginning: 1800 – 1899
A love of betting in general and betting on horses in particular is an essential feature of English heritage. The St. Leger,
the oldest Classic in the world, was first run in 1776, four years before the Derby, although race meetings on Epsom Downs
date back to 1661 and meetings at York, Doncaster and Chester have their starting points in the previous century.
One fine day towards the end of the 18th Century, Harry Ogden, a Lancastrian, informed onlookers at Newmarket Heath that
he was prepared to offer prices against each and every horse in a race. Ogden is widely acknowledged as the UK’s first
Irrespective of Ogden’s attempts, betting activity, come the dawn of the 19th Century, was still dominated by transactions
among individuals, often racehorse owners and their friends, and horseracing remained primarily a rich man’s preserve.
It was the dawning (still some decades away) of the age of steam, railways and mass transport that eventually enabled the public
to ‘go racing’ and opened up the Sport of Kings to all.
Betting contracts between punters and bookmakers, in which no money changed hands, often led to debts and ill will.
Such contracts were made legally unenforceable under the 1845 Gaming Act, a measure that encouraged bookmakers to maintain
on cash. Betting shops made an appearance, only to be outlawed by the Betting Act of 1853. Bookmaking continued, albeit with
an ‘on course’ focus, although by 1870 the place to be on race days was Hyde Park where bookies pinned betting lists to trees
and punters hunted among the flora for the best chances. Such gatherings proved disorderly and were eventually outlawed
by the police.
In 1886 Messrs Schwind and Pennington went into partnership as commission agents, their principal objective being to back
horses trained by the former at Ladbroke Hall in Worcestershire. It was to prove a unexpected association.