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The Grand National & Cheltenham Festival Revisited

During the Cheltenham Festival, Richard described how Trust IV had developed a web performance test application to monitor the page response times for websites. We used our application to monitor ten online gambling sites and assessed how they fared during the festival. We published the results of a selected few websites in March.We used the same application to observe gambling websites over Grand National weekend and saw that while most websites coped well, some sites really struggled….As shown in the graph below, Coral’s website performed badly on Grand National Saturday. Our calculations show the average response time for the website was 6.6 seconds for the day “as a whole”, but average response times rose to 19.6 seconds between 10:30 and 14:30. Extremely high response times of 30 seconds and beyond were also seen during this peak period. We discussed these findings with a popular betting tipster, who advised us that the majority of bets are placed a few hours before the main race of the day, allowing “punters” to watch the day’s races in full. This is borne out by our observations which show that the slow-down occurred an hour or so before the 16:15 start of the Grand National.When investigating the slow down, Richard described how the website appeared to spend a lot of time spent waiting for content from the domain which implies a problem with the site’s image cache.  This is not the first time this year that Coral’s website has struggled during a big racing meet. PerfBytes  described outages for both the Coral and Paddy Power websites during the Cheltenham Festival in a recent podcast. After reviewing our own test data for Cheltenham Festival Ladies Day, we were able to see the exact times that the site struggled. During the Cheltenham Festival, the Coral website crashed during the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Coral Cup. It has been suggested that “over-generous” odds could be a reason for the high traffic volumes and the failure of the site.    Being a bit of sports nut, I will continue to use our tool to see how websites perform during big sporting events. With some important finals in May, such as the Champions League, FA Cup, Heineken Cup, and other racing meets such as Epsom Derby, it will be interesting to see how performances fare both on and off the pitch.  

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