Scott Salkeld says: ‘We have people who will bet with the money and try to pinch a point here and there. Betfair and websites such as oddschecker.com which has prices for most of the major firms make the job much easier.’ Spread firms often subscribe to the major tipping services on the basis that if there is a sudden rush of money mid- morning for a horse in one of their race indices, they need to know why.
But the key as always to the spread firms’ success is knowledge and judgement. Watching every race, every day helps form judgements on horses, jockeys and trainers, and most traders are not short of a strong opinion. Salkeld says: ‘There are jockeys I think are awesome and there are some who should never be on the back of a horse. Some trainers and owners I always respect, some I dread backing. But that is what the business is about—having opinions and I have them just like the clients do.’ Whether their opinions are always right may be another matter, but there can be no doubt traders have an expert knowledge of horse racing.
For the man working in the office it is hard to compete with someone who race watches for a living and has a computer to check the spread quotes. One of the advantages of racing is that every race, every day is easily available to watch, if you have the time. Contrast that with almost any other sport and the market-maker is relying on a few live events, edited highlights and written reports.