Tell us a little about Matt Bisogno, What or who lead you in to the world of horse racing?
MB – I first got interested in horse racing and betting as a result of popping in to my local bookmaker for a bet on the football on a Saturday. While I was there, there were always races going off in the background. Like everyone else, I started with the colours and the form numbers next to the horses' names. But the puzzle drew me in, and the desire to solve the puzzle is as strong today as it's ever been.
My dad is Italian, and came to England in the early 60's. He has no interest in racing, and nor do any of my other relatives, so it is solely down to me!
Prior to founding geegeez.co.uk, I worked in the text room at SIS, and as a betting shop manager for William Hill in the east end of London – an eye-opening experience in all sorts of ways. I then got a ‘proper job' – working in software development project and programme management for a decade for various retail banks – before starting geegeez.
We understand that you are a race horse owner yourself. Do you have any words of wisdom for anyone who may be interested in dipping their toe in to race horse ownership?
MB – Yes, I’ve been syndicating horses through geegeez for about seven years, and the advice has never changed: racehorse ownership should be seen as a leisure activity, not an investment. Many horses never win a race, and there are always downs as well as (hopefully) ups.
But, if you go into it in the right frame of mind, it’s a brilliant, exciting rollercoaster experience, and you really do get a lot closer to the action.
Finally, I’d suggest anyone looking to dip their toe in for the first time to look for a friendly local syndicate with a trainer you have researched. The only slight problem with geegeez syndicates is that members are not local but, rather, spread all around the world!
You are Editor in Chief for the geegeez.co.uk website. Would you describe for us how you see the site and what if offers that maybe others sites of a similar nature don’t?
MB – Geegeez has changed over the years, and people who are maybe aware of it from way back when might be surprised if they returned now. Originally a betting system and service review site with me writing blogs and race previews, the site has mushroomed somewhat in the last two to three years.
We now have a team of writers, covering general news and specialist areas such as point to points, the Irish and French racing scenes; as well as two daily tipping pieces, Stat of the Day (SotD) and Double Dutch (DD).
SotD is the only editorial part of the Geegeez Gold provision, and it has made subscribers £1,583.40 in the first seven months of this year to just £20 stakes.
The rest of the site content is data-driven now, as we’ve introduced leading edge racecards and form tools and reports to the menu. These are going down a storm, and we’ve a growing army of paying subscribers as well as over 7,000 registered free members (there’s a lot worth registering for!)
What is a typical working day for Matt B? What one thing do you enjoy the most about your work?
MB – There actually isn’t a typical working day, which is one of the things I love most about running Geegeez. The core theme is that I still manage most customer support elements myself, which takes between an hour and three hours a day. I’m at my limit with that now, but have been really keen to retain that personal connection with readers for as long as I possibly can.
Beyond that, I’ll either be writing a post (an ‘average’ post will be around 2,500 to 3,000 words in length, and it’s always the research rather than the writing that takes the time!); or I’ll be working on specifications/testing of new components of Geegeez Gold, or the site as a whole.
I’m also in charge of all of the marketing and promotion, so I spend a lot of time looking at campaigns and planning things in. And I’m currently working on a new look for geegeez, which is about three weeks away, I think.
As often as I can – most days – I spend an hour or so finding my own bets. I’m able to look at all racing in the week from this amount of time, simply because the Geegeez Gold toolkit was designed by pro punters (and me, who is profitable but not pro!) to shortcut the winner-finding process. In other words, I can get more information in less time, and from a single source.
It’s also worth saying that I work from a small office close to home, and I look after my young son (three in September!) in the mornings while my partner runs her personal training practice. It is really great to have that flexibility and to be able to spend so much time with the lad 🙂
If you could change one thing within the horse racing or betting industry what would it be and why?
MB – Brilliant question, and where do I start?!
I’d like to look at the amount of power racecourses have; I’d be ensuring the ‘racing right' (the mooted Levy Fund replacement) transitions smoothly and will be a net winner for the sport’s coffers; I’d have more active monitoring and control of bookmakers in the area of Rule 4 manipulation; and I’d insist bookmakers laid any horse to any punter for at least £25, regardless of how much of a winner that punter was.
Other things I’d love to see include changing the race programme to seriously reduce the number Pattern races over jumps (the Pattern was set up to support the breeding programme, and most jumpers are unable to procreate!); adding more claiming races to the race programme (where trainers/owners essentially ‘self-handicap’ their horses); and having race series at the lower end of the spectrum to give the smaller owners and trainers a chance at a few half decent pots.
I could go on, but I’d imagine most readers are already nodding off…!
Are there any personal highlights with regards to your experiences within the horse racing industry and/or your time at geegeez you can share with the readers? Is there any one highlight which brings a smile?
MB – This business has brought me a genuine and constant stream of joy. I love racing, and I get to indulge my passion every day, and to share that with like-minded people. What could be better?!
Specific highlights include the great response to Geegeez Gold, with a humbling large number of subscribers saying it’s the best thing they’ve ever used. We set out with that bold aim, and for people to volunteer comments in line with our aspiration is incredibly gratifying and joy-bringing. Building up the Gold community is the biggest achievement of my business career, I think.
Elsewhere, sharing big winners on the blog is always exciting. Glorious Goodwood included winners nominated at 25/1 (Jaadu, SP 12/1) and 14/1 (Gibeon, SP 11/1) on the same day; and a couple of months ago we were on the Irish National winner, Thunder And Roses, at 25/1.
The other highlights have been related to the syndicates. Bringing people – including me! – close to their dream of owning a racehorse, and seeing it win, is a massive buzz… especially when the money’s down!
All of the above are about shared highlights. Whilst this is my livelihood, everything is based on community and sharing the highs and lows of racing. If I’m the only one that thinks something is a highlight that would be wrong.
What do you enjoy most about horse racing in general? Do you have any favourite meetings, tracks or race types?
MB – I love the diversity of racing. Kings and Queens follow it with the same verve that the blokes in the pub do, even if for slightly differing reasons.
My real engagement, as I said at the start, is trying to solve the puzzle. I think the key to this is choosing your battles. In other words, find the puzzles that, to you, look solvable!
After all, backing a 6/1 winner in a Cheltenham Festival handicap will pay you no more than backing a 6/1 winner in a seller at Southwell.
My favourite meetings are probably the same as everyone’s: Cheltenham and Aintree in the winter, and Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood in summer. And I get to travel to the Arc most years, and the Breeders’ Cup every year – I love those great race days too.
Favourite race types… not really, but there are a couple I’ve historically really struggled with, namely 2yo and 3yo only handicaps. Some of the reports inside Geegeez Gold have helped to flag some live ones there in recent times, but I still tend to swerve them.
Favourite bet type is without doubt the placepot. Deceptively tricky, it’s a bet the player has to win twice: first you have to correctly nominate a horse placed in six races, but importantly you have to try to unearth the ones which are unconsidered by the market. I play a placepot most days, have scored some big wins on them, but am probably only close to placepot punting parity overall, I’d say.
Are you a man who likes to have a bet himself? If so, what style and approach to betting do you take?
MB – YES!!!! As I’ve mentioned above, I’ll bet for some action most days, either with a placepot or a couple of small stakes singles. If I fancy something, I’ll have a bigger bet, but my stakes aren’t enormous.
I want to win at betting – and I’m pleased to say that I do, and have done for most of the last decade – but I don’t want to be in a position where I need to win. That has to be one of the most stressful jobs on the planet!
I think staking is important, and not in a scientific or mathematical way, necessarily. Rather, I just think you have to ask yourself before placing a bet, “Do I really think this horse is the wrong price here, or am I just guessing?” Both are fine, but they obviously shouldn’t be staked the same.
As you can tell from the above, I’m trying to beat the market and get ‘value’ odds on my fancy. I know that if I can consistently beat the market, I will win. If I can’t, I won’t.
Betting short priced favourites is rarely my thing, but they are sometimes tremendous value, and one particular market to look out for in big races is the ‘without the favourite’ market. These are often priced up really generously – Arod without Solow at 3/1 and 11/4 in last week’s Sussex Stakes was a great example – so it’s a bet worth looking at, especially when there’s a very heavy favourite.
Your geegeez site reviews many of the tipping services on offer and gives an unbiased opinion. Do you think that there is such a thing as a consistently profitable tipping service? If so, what crucial elements do you think such a service needs?
MB – We have a team of volunteer reviewers who look at products for sixty betting days, and we have seen a few really excellent ones over the years.
As for a consistently profitable service, our own Stat of the Day has had just three losing months in the last eighteen months, and is £2,986.80 in profit to £20 level stakes during that time (from a single one point bet per day, Monday to Saturday).
So, yes, there is certainly such a thing as a consistently profitable service, IF people are realistic about what constitutes profitability and what they’re actually trying to achieve.
Many value services are profitable, but the nature of tipping higher priced horses is that the losing runs will be longer. If you join on a downswing it can be very hard to keep the faith, but if you know the long-term results and can see the merit of the selections from the write-ups (which can often be an education in themselves), then that’s the route to making money from other people’s opinions.
Are there any future plans for geegeez that we should look out for?
MB – Yes, plenty, though I can’t say too much at this stage. What I can tell you – I already have, actually – is that we’re re-styling the site to hopefully make it easier to navigate.
We’ve also got plenty of new content developments in the pipeline, and I’d like to add a couple more writers to the team, to add even more top class content on that side.
I imagine most people reading this have heard of Geegeez by now, but if it’s been a while since you checked in, do drop by again, as quite a lot has changed since the early years; and if you haven’t ever visited, I really hope you find something of value there.
For instance, we now have what I believe are the best free racecards in UK. They have four different views of trainer and jockey form, and an insightful ‘form tracker’ tool called ‘Then What?’ right inline on the card.
If you register as a free user, you’ll get a whole bunch more goodness, but the ‘advertorial’ is getting a bit out of hand now – just go check it out and decide for yourself!
What do you do to relax and unwind? Any interests outside of the horse racing world?
MB – Running a site like geegeez tends to expand to fill all of the time available, but of course I do have time for my partner and our young son. These are special years with them, and we’re really fortunate to be able to spend so much time together.
Aside from that, I’m a keen footy fan and am currently living the dream as my little team, Bournemouth, have unbelievably made it into the Premier League. I also love to travel, though my wings have been clipped a touch since Leonardo was born. You can register for a free GeeGeez card here.