Crikey. Blimey, even.
I got a little message from LinkedIn this morning, then a couple more from friends, congratulating me on ten years in business online.
Most people have big red circles on their calendars around such a date. Me? I didn’t even know until I got those messages!
So I’ve hastily pulled together a few thoughts and throwbacks, by way of a timeline. For newer readers, this will probably be inconsequential, but for those who have been following me, geegeez, and before that, the original nag-nag-nag, it might be fun. 🙂
Having bimbled around in various ‘make money’ spaces for a year or so, the very first thing I did in the online racing space was to create a little product called TrainerTrackStats. Below is the cover of the first one, production standards as you’d expect… Click the image to take a look inside.
That little ebook showed me that it was possible to leave the day job and fashion a way in the world dictated not by some cheerless corporation, but by me – and, more importantly, you, a cheerful (mainly!) collective of horse racing and betting fans.
That first edition had a great early success – staggering, really – when on 21st September 2006, it found a remarkable eight winners out of nine selections. And the loser was 3rd in the same race as one of the winners!
The combined odds of an octet which included 12/1 and 10/1 picks was 45,461/1.
A short time after…
Next up, in February 2007, my very first blog appeared. Nag-Nag-Nag (The Home of Racing Ranting) was its name. It was back in the days when I didn’t take things too seriously – I miss those days… – and here’s a post pweviewing the 2007 2000 Guineas in the style of Elmer Fudd (well why not?) :
02 MAY 2007
“Wascal Wabbit” on the 2000 Guineas
In the spiwwit of the cartoon genius, I will twy to wite this as Mr Fudd… (some of my unkinder weaders may think the similawities don’t stop there!)
Onto business, and today lets look at the histowical twends in the 2,000 Guineas with a view to finding the winner.
Firstly, weight and age are constants in the wace. All are thwee yearw’ olds and all cawwy nine stone.
However, therw’ are some stwong twends elsewhere…
Odds: No horse has won the wace at longer than 11/1 since Mister Baileys in 1994. Indeed, the winner has been in the first five in the betting in each of the last eleven wunnings of the wace, except one, when the winner was sixth in the market.
So lets scwub out all bar those with a chance of being in the first six in the market. This is not tewwibly helpful in finding the winner, but it does weduce our list to:
Teofilo, Adagio, US Wanger, Major Cadeaux, Diamond Tycoon, Dutch Art, Haatef and Stwategic Pwince. Of these, some will likely not fit the bill on the day.
The other point of note with wegards to the betting is that George Washington last year was the first favouwite to win since Zafonic in 1993, and there have been a few supposed ‘good things’ turned over at odds-on in that list.
So, I’ll stwike out Teofilo. My wegular weader will know how keen I am to do that anyway! (Note, the one pwoviso herew’ is that I weckon Adagio might start favouwite on the day).
Nine of the past eleven winners of the wace were twained by Stoute, O’Bwien or bin Suwoor. Of this stellar twiumviwate of twaining twiplets, only Stoute’s Adagio is likely to be in the cowwect pwice bwacket. This must be a big positive if he is not sent off favouwite on the day.
Pwevious wun this season? Eight of the last eleven winners were first time out wunners. Only Haatef, Stwategic Pwince and Teofilo have that in their favour.
Pwevious form? Nothing too intewesting here (at first glance at least), as four winners had been unbeaten, the same number suffered one defeat, and thwee had had two weverses.
Dwaw? Vewwy vewwy intewesting! On first glance, the dwaw looks iwwelevant with winners coming fwom (seemingly) all parts of the twack. But comparw’ing the winning dwaw with the number of wunners weveals that no fewer than sixteen of the last seventeen winners were dwawn five or fewer stalls from either side. Although this potentially gives you ten horses to follow, if you’re not dwawn within five of a wail, I say forget it! (Therew’ are alweady sixteen horses jocked up out of a possible thirty, so I’d expect half the field at least to be dwawn out of it.
So there we have it: still a numberw’ of impondewables, but I’m looking for a horse in the first five or six in the betting (but not favouwite), dwawn within five of the wails. I’d bet all that pass these tests.
If forced to make a selection, I’d go for Adagio (won despite a twoubled passage last time) and Diamond Tycoon (vewwy fast horse).
Other matters: “Spanish wefs, buy the cards” took a dwubbing last night, as did I, when the pwojected sanguine tub (or bloodbath if you pwefer) failed to matewialise. Although it was a well contested affair (as you’d expect forw’ a match of such magnitude), it was also disappointingly well wefereed by the Spanish arbitwator (ok, so I’m just picking words with r’s that I can turn into w’s now!) Nevertheless, do not lose faith on this one. You will be wichly wewarded if you follow this stwategy.
Well, that’s about the size of it for this post. Its actually a lot twickier than it may seem to wite like Jonathon Woss and Elmer Fudd speak. Twy it, and you’ll see what I mean!
With warm wegards,
Matt ‘Elmer’ Bisogno
Looking back, I probably wrote some of my best stuff on that blog. Life was simpler: no day job (which running geegeez these days has become), no family to distract (in a most welcome fashion, I should add), and well just lots more time to be creative with the writing.
These days I often get frustrated that the quality of post isn’t as I’d have it. I can write a lot better but simply don’t usually get the time to indulge myself – and possibly two of you! – in elaborately embroidered prose. One day soon, I hope we’ll get back to that place. I very much miss it.
There’s loads of stuff on the Way Back Machine at archive.org, a truly brilliant resource, and if you want to scurry down a few historical Nag3 rabbit holes, this link will support that feckless endeavour. (See, I’m getting all verbose just thinking about it!)
In Summer 2008, I gave it all away. Literally. I received a job offer I couldn’t refuse, one of the conditions of which was that I’d divest my business interests. So my great mate Gavin Priestley took on Nag3 and TTS, and he still runs both of them – alongside his Festival Trends service – today.
As for the amazing job, I lasted less than two months, struggling to work with a multi-millionaire entrepreneur whose office was two hours from my home. Having had an office in the back room, that commute – combined with a serious clash of professional styles – was the end of that.
I’m still in touch with Tim Lowe, the man in question, and we remain friends. It was a fantastic window on the world of direct mail business.
It did, however, leave me with a bit of a problem: no business!!
Late ’08: the genesis of geegeez…
Geegeez emerged to fill that void in September 2008, on google’s blogger platform, moving to Wordpress later. It was a horse racing systems blog, with some of my rambling, and occasionally floral, bloglets lobbed in.
The earliest reference in the Wayback Machine is from December 2008 and, wouldn’t you know it?, it was a post about login issues on the Racing Post website. Some seven years later, and very little has changed there…
So geegeez will be seven years old next month, which in itself is pretty cool, I think. It’s had a few facelifts since the start, but remains a fairly ugly bugger – far more functional than foxy. And we are working on a further nip and tuck which will hopefully be ready in time for the wee lad’s seventh birthday.
Here’s how the site looked in January 2009, with some typical (of the time) content.
And here’s yet another incarnation, this time from August 2010. A bit of a cleaner design, this one.
This (relative) good looker didn’t last very long at all – it was a triumph of form over function – and the current digital physiog has been in situ since the end of 2011.
Yep, definitely time for a change…
Chris (and Paul)
Since about 2009, I’ve had some invaluable help. First it was Paul, and for the last four years, it’s been Chris. Mr Stat of the Day/Double Dutch, he’s also the chief reviewer and the main man at the support mailbox. He is as vital a cog in the functioning of the site as me these days, and I dread it when he goes on holiday!
So, a quick and well-earned public line of gratitude is due at this point to Chris. Thanks a million, mate! 😀
2010: Business mentoring
In 2010, a tad unchallenged by what was a perfectly comfortable pottering existence, I decided to help some others start their own business online. A few interested guys and gals signed up, and a very pleasing number of them have been able to ‘sack their boss’ as a consequence of their hard work online, and some solid processes, strategies and tactics I was able to share with them.
I had four intakes of ‘students’ (for want of a better word), and each group (around ten to fifteen a time) produced at least three individuals who have been able to call their own tune since. The industry average is one in thirty, so one in four or so is pretty good.
It’s worth adding at this point that those who didn’t make it sadly either gave up, or never started. That’s a real shame, but as you can see from the industry average it’s an all too common problem. My greater ability to help people comes down to two things, both deliberate:
1. More realistic claims in the offer letter, disqualifying most tyre-kickers and fantasists
2. Better ongoing support and mentoring
I keep thinking about taking another group, but the reality is that I simply cannot commit the time right now. That’s because…
2013: Data, baby!
The comfort zone is not a place in which I’m, well, comfortable. I am bored easily, and have very high expectations of myself (and others). Consequently, I’m often disappointed and frustrated, as I’ve alluded already, when my output is not up to par.
In 2013, I decided to bite the bullet and really go for it. I was using a variety of different software and sites to pull together the info I needed to inform my betting. Not only was it expensive, but it was really time-consuming. So I decided to build a tool that fitted what I need, and what a few pro bettors with whom I consulted at the time needed.
Geegeez Gold was born, though it was yet to receive its current lustrous moniker.
The cards, form tools, reports, tipping league, and tracker functionality have been built by a (very) small and (immensely) dedicated team. In some ways, this has been ‘full circle’ for me, as I left a job as a software development project/programme manager/consultant back in June 2006 – having worked part-time in my business for a year to that point.
I’d love for the development to move more quickly. I’d love to be able to bring you more tools and toys to play with. And I… we… will. It’ll just take a bit more time. Still, we already have the most intuitive and info-stacked racecards in UK – and the best free provision as well. We also have the game-changing Instant Expert, as well as further form and pace profiling tools.
And, with agreement reached with the data provider on a new contract to supply geegeez until 2019, we have plenty of time to add more and more content to the platform.
Realistically, geegeez will always struggle to compete with the brand presence and financial clout of the big boys; but I’m confident it will continue to carve out a solid reputation as the ’boutique’ racecard and form tool provider of choice, its breadth of quality content making up for a far smaller market mouthpiece.
We already have plenty of familiar names from the racing media and the industry at large using Geegeez Gold, and that’s a sign of a growing awareness of who we are and what we do. Please do tell you friends about geegeez.co.uk if you like it. (And I simply cannot imagine you’d have read anywhere near this far if you didn’t!!!)
Although the last few months have been nose to the grindstone stuff (my conk can take a bit more grinding down than most due to its impressive measurements!) and, in truth, not the most enjoyable for me personally, that’s a temporary and necessary penance while I attempt to make things more ‘repeatable’.
In plain English, things have grown and I need help, so I need to be able to explain to people how I need help, such that they can, erm, help. OK, probably not so plain English but you get my gist…!
The rest of the year will see a new look to geegeez, and some new tools. I’m hopeful that we’ll also see some new writers contributing, and I have some big names in mind. Not just any old ‘big names’ but the ones I personally respect the most for their forthrightness and their acute awareness of our great sport.
In short, it will be more of the same. Only better. Quite a nice little slogan that.
Geegeez: more of the same. Only better. 😉
To those who bought TTS a decade ago – you know who you are – genuinely, I cannot thank you enough. Everything since is because of you. You obviously didn’t care a flying dismount for me at that time, because you didn’t know me. You were interested in TTS, a product that has truly stood the test of time.
Since then, via the blogs, you’ve got to know me and I’ve got to know you, and things have been largely magnificent. My appreciation for the fact that everybody who comes to geegeez and/or uses Gold, and/or any of the systems, statistics or services that preceded it, is a somebody, can be measured by the fact that by far the biggest call on my time – roughly three hours a day, every day – is in responding to your comments and questions.
You will know if you’ve ever had reason to email me that I respond personally and that I take time to care and to ensure I do everything I can to help, whether it’s going to put money in geegeez’ bank account or not. This is, and has always been, more than ‘just’ a business to me. It’s a community, and I’m proud to be a senior member of it.
There will come a time, however, perhaps quite soon, when I have to move back a bit from being so immersively active in that support role – Chris already shares the load with me – but that time is not yet. And I’ll hold off for as long as I possibly can without impacting the ability for geegeez to move forward, to the benefit of all.
Finally, to everyone who has joined the geegeez bandwagon since those early TTS/Nag3 days, my thanks to you as well. We’ve had tens of thousands come and go over the years, and these days we have many thousands visit the site daily. I hope there will be a lot more still to entertain you in the next ten weeks, let alone the next ten years.
Thank you. Very, very much.