Way back in July 2001, my Betfair trading career was in its infancy.
My first ever bet was on Golf and I quickly moved onto my specialist areas, football and financial markets.
Why I was interested in horse racing
I knew little of horseracing. For me, it was a sport held at Ascot and Aintree once a year, where a small person sat on a four-legged beast and raced to the line. That was the complete extent of my horseracing knowledge!
I had no perception of Cheltenham or the fact that racing took place every day. But when I looked there seemed to be meetings on all the time and they were doing some serious numbers. What was all this about?
My knowledge was non-existent, a maiden was a Disney princess, a seller with somebody that knocked on your door to flog double glazing and I was curious about exactly what s handicap race was? Suffice to say that my knowledge of horseracing was not great.
Going to a meeting was the best way to learn more about the sport. Because liquidity on the exchange was still growing at this point I was still not full time, but instead, I was still active in the consumer technology industry.
How I got tickets to my first horse racing meeting
As chance would have it, I was at a meeting in the Midlands where not only did I have several customers, but this was also where a freight forwarder was based.
One morning I set off at 6:30 to head to Coleshill to visit a company called Software Warehouse. After this meeting, I went to the freight forwarder who was just around the corner, to have a meeting with Dixons group to discuss their freight for forwarding requirements for their PC World stores. It was an amazingly thrilling meeting as you can tell!
After the meeting had finished, I went to lunch with the account manager of this freight forwarding company and the managing director. We discussed many things over lunch, but one of the topics that cropped up was horseracing. Apparently, the managing director was very keen on horseracing.
We also had a number of issues to resolve and, in the corporate world, hospitality is where a lot of these issues get resolved or at least moved forward significantly. So we decided that maybe going to horse racing would give us an opportunity to discuss all the issues in more informal surroundings.
Soon after this lunch meeting, I got an email from the freight border inviting me to some racing at Newmarket. Back then I had no idea about the significance of Newmarket. I remember wondering why I was having to drive halfway across the country to go to a racecourse in the middle of nowhere.
My Newmarket experience
Despite that, I drove all the way to Newmarket and a nice hotel in the centre of town welcomed us. We parked our overnight bags in the hotel and headed to the racecourse.
I distinctly remember the complete confusion that I had as I attempted to navigate the race card. Sensing this could be a critical moment in my betting career, I kept a copy of the race card which you see in the image on this blog.
I had to take plenty of advice from other people on the table, but exactly what I should be doing was a mystery and I cautiously drifted out towards the Tote booth to place a bet. Suffice to say that my first bit of horseracing didn’t exactly go to plan. I simply backed the short-priced favourite each way and hoped for the best.
You can probably guess how well that went, but that evening I managed to learn quite a lot about horseracing. Little did I realise just how significant that start point would be because within a few years I would be betting tens of thousands of pounds on individual horse races. On the big races, much more.
It’s all a blank
The evening was very pleasant indeed and we got gently sozzled in the hospitality area and randomly bet random amounts on random horses. I did about as well as anybody at the table, figuring that opinion was as good as random anyhow if I staked correctly. Eventually drifting into the town after the racing to continue the night.
The new morning brought a reminder as to why you shouldn’t really drink too much as my mind failed to recover some of the detail of the night before.
However, at breakfast, I probed for more advice and knowledge of racing. I obviously impressed the managing director of the freight forwarder with my interest in the sport. Each time we met in the future he would give me more advice and tips.
I gradually grew my interest in racing to the point where I began to understand it much better and could use key information to be able to influence my betting activity and more importantly my trading activity.
When I look back at where that started, it was at thank drunken night at Newmarket. Never could I have imagined where it would lead.
But that’s my story of how I attended my first race meeting and why!