Every time I watch Episode I, the prevailing question that still bothers me profoundly is not, "why Jar Jar?", but rather, what are we (the audience) supposed to think about the Pod Race sequence? Bear with me while I explore my meaning.
During the course of the Pod Race, with the exception of Ben Quadineros (who's pod fails), (presumably) Odie Mandrel (who's pod fails due to Pit Droid troubles), Sebulba (who is knocked out of the race), and Anakin (who wins), EVERY SINGLE pod racer DIES! Or is at least knocked out of the race. The bonus footage for the DVD seems to bear this out as well.
So, in the end we are to walk away from that sequence seeing Pod Racing as not so much a race as a demolition derby of doom. There hardly seems to be any point in betting on the races as only one may ultimately cross the finish line. I guess what I am getting at is that the one thing sorely lacking in that sequence was even a single other pod except Anakins shown finishing the race. Rather than the shot of Sebulba in medium close up cursing his loss, we should have seen him further back with a couple of stragglers coming in at second and third.
And one sidebar note, when Watto is seen at the end of the race, he claims that he lost everything. Correct me if I'm wrong kids, but wasn't he entitled to all of Anakin's winnings less the cost of the parts Qui-Gon needed? Since local boy Anakin was almost certainly at least a 20:1 shot (if not a gazillion:1 shot), he should have paid of quite handsomely. And if Sebulba "always wins", wouldn't he just be a 1:1 shot? Why bet heavily on the sure winner. The pay-off could not have been that substantial.
Any thoughts, class?