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The Racing Post last Friday published a controversial list of 'Racing's Top Tweeters'. It listed the top hundred racing personalities, by number of followers.
So why was it controversial? Well, in my opinion, anything which is based on quantity over quality must be flawed. I mean, imagine if there was a 'racing's top blogs' based on the same notion. geegeez would be very close to the top... I rest my case!
As an example, the number one racing personality according to the Racing Post, was Michael Owen! Yes, you know, the occasional footballer and occasional racehorse owner, Michael Owen. Number four was Alex Hammond. Very attractive, especially as a twitter-follower-magnet... but adding value? Come off it.
So, partly in rally against such a lazy piece of journalism (in my opinion), and partly because I'd love to encourage a few more of you into the tweet space (for reasons I'll share at the end of this piece), here is my strawman top twenty-t'ree Twittery tweeters.
By strawman, I mean this is intended as a starting list, which is up for discussion. It is based on a subset of the people I follow, and of course there are squillions of others out there, many of whom will also be worth following. So, where you see a glaring omission, leave a comment, and I may update the list. It's my aspiration to create some sort of living guide to the top tweeters.
I should say that I've deliberately omitted any trainers or jockeys, largely because anything they say which is worth knowing gets re-tweeted by some of the below. And trainers and jockeys generally tweet a load of old crap around the occasional important snippet. (There are probably exceptions but I've yet to find any. I welcome suggestions in this space).
[Note, with respect, I'd encourage you to suggest other people's twitter feeds rather than your own. Thanks!]
To sign up for a Twitter account, just go to https://twitter.com/ and follow the (very simple) prompts.
As and when you're a registered user, you can follow my suggestions below - should you so wish - by clicking their @name, and then clicking the 'Follow' button that appears in the newly opened window. Simples, as a certain fictional meerkat of dubious origins might say.
Thursday 29th March: the list has been updated with your suggestions. Do keep them coming, as it's my intention for this to be a 'living list'.
OK, to business. Here's my starter list...
She says: Racing fan. And journalist. Stalker of Antigua Sunrise and Lie Forrit.
I say: Articulate, honest, knowledgeable. Everything I believe a racing journo should be. Top class. Easy enough on the eye too…
He says: Freelance writer (ex Timeform and Racing Post) and broadcaster with Racing UK, TVG and Timeform Radio.
I say: Graham Cunningham. King of Twanter (a new phrase I just coined for Twitter banter), and a prolific tweeter. Often interesting, especially if you’re fine with reading between lines.
He says: Muck out, ride out, and talk about horses on radio and television for a living. Just started producing, filming and editing on my own and loving it....
I say: Luke Harvey. Lovable joker. Occasional buffoon. Not to everyone's tastes. Something of a guilty pleasure….
He says: Journalist. Interests include horse racing, football, Olympics.
I say: Francis Keogh. The sort of feed for ‘you heard it here first’ news, often in the wider sporting context.
He says: ex-various things.
I say: Unquestionably one of my favourite racing journalists ever. Now dealing with serious illness, and sharing the bittersweet battle in typically sanguine fashion. Top tweeter. Terrible tipster.
He says: Guardian and Observer racing editor
I say: A bit ‘establishment’ perhaps, but then he has a serious day job to jeopardize. Also a hopeless PNE romantic (as all fans of lower league football should be).
He says: Racing Post hack generously voted racing journalist of the year by some ever so nice people. A lover of the gee gees, Strictly Come Dancing and home baking.
I say: Just about the only Racing Post journalist worth reading (sad but true), and surely not long for that world as the bright lights of TV will tempt him away. Eloquent, erudite, and just a little bit soft. Lovely.
He says: TV presenter on Attheraces and race commentator. 2010 HWPA Broadcaster of the Year. Winner of the 2010 Racing Post Broadcasters' World Cup.
I say: Matt Chapman. As you can see from his blurb, not shy when it comes to self-promotion. And of course not shy when it comes to broadcasting. Extremely well-connected modern day Thommo, which is probably the biggest back-handed compliment I can pay anyone. In any case, an occasional guilty pleasure. I do enjoy his opinionated candour.
He says: Jim McGrath- Channel 4 commentator and racehorse owner.
You say: Ex-Timeform, still has some good opinions.
He says: Timeform Radio pundit, Cheltenham resident, new husband, hopelessly optimistic broodmare owner.
You say: Rory Delargy. Knows his nags, not a prolific tweeter but always makes sense
He says: Ex-Timeform/J R Gask. Now freelance racing journo (RP, Irish Field etc), horse breeder, business owner and kickboxer. Topped the 2011 Irish Field Naps Table.
You say: Very knowledgable, outside-the-box views
He says: Blogger and Head of R&D at Timeform. Small-time racehorse owner.
I say: Simon Rowlands. Some very interesting analyses of racing from outside of the usual spectrum of interpretation, as you'd expect from one of the top number-crunchers at Timeform.
He says: Racing Fan, Timeform Flat editor and handicapper, occasional pundit on Timeform Radio.
I say: Strong opinions on the flat (obviously), and should be worth following in the early part of the turf flat season, at the very least.
He says: Syndicate manager for Koo's Racing Club who also likes the odd flutter on the horses.
I say: Kristian Strangeway. Shrewd gambler who owns the fifteen-odd strong team of Koo’s Racing Club horses. Some good insights into what type of horse might do well under what conditions. (Don’t expect a tip though!)
He says: Racing, football, occasionally cricket.
I say: Eddie Fremantle. Former Guardian journo, now freelance with RUK and others. Fulham fan and forthright racing analyst.
He says: Full time sports punter/analyst and writer/broadcaster on RUK. Most sports esp racing, NFL, cricket, rugby league and football. Former Betfair staff.
You say: Tweets plenty of interesting stuff and because he travels to different meetings each day is good for updates on travel problems and any other live snippets from the course. Very good on the NFL too, if you like that sort of thing.
He says: Tony Keenan. Irish Horse Racing punter, with a preference for flat racing & not the good stuff either. Form, pace, video analysis. Betfair blogger. Contrarian.
I say: Excellent, pithy young writer. And one, I’m delighted to announce, who will be joining the Geegeez/Horse-Racing.ie team of writers this week! Strong views esp. on Irish racing.
He says: Author of Horse Racing Trends book 'Narrowing The Field - Using The Dosage Method to Win at National Hunt Racing' - Member of the Twitterati, owners of Trending.
I say: Ben Aitken. ‘Hairy Ben’ as I call him. Dosage guru, trends analyst and all round hairy man. Prefers jumps to flat, but then, don’t most people?
He says: Lucky enough to have worked in Ballydoyle, studied Equine Science in U.L & now working with ATR. Blogger for Paddy Power. Big sports fan too, Man Utd & Tipperary.
I say: Declan Rix. Interesting perspectives on Irish horses, and the sort of chap likely to reply to your questions. Twitter should, in my opinion, be about access / information, and Declan fulfils the remit.
He says: Trends compiler. Highlights are The Festival and York Ebor meetings. Proud to have owned a winner in MISS WIZZ.
I say: Tony McCormick. Trends analyst, and owner of Irish Big Race Trends. (Strong) opinions, and the occasional cuss make Tony ‘18 certificate’ following…
He says: Horse racing owner, punter, writer and publisher... Opinionated, vocal and frequently wrong. (know a bit about marketing online too).
I say: You don’t need me to tell you what I’m like. You already know well enough! My Twitter presence is a bit more ‘snapshot’ (i.e. less considered) than most of my blog ramblings. Might be worth a look though.
He says: CEO of Racing Enterprises Ltd & British Champions Series Ltd. Host of#theracingtavern
I say: Rod Street. The man behind Racing For Change. Whilst I’ve been a critic of RFC’s early work, it’s hard to deny they’ve been partly responsible for racing’s recent relative renaissance. Rod is a keen tweeter, and runs a Sunday night racing (in the main) online quiz at the aforementioned The Racing Tavern.
He says: Latest news and updates from the home of totepool betting!
I say: All the latest news from the tote pools. If you’re placepotting or jackpotting, this is a good feed to follow.
He says: Betfred/totepool spokesman. Fat lookalike of: Freddie Flintoff, David Coulthard, Kevin Pressman and Marilyn from Home & Away.
I say: More engaging than many of the bookie PR types. Tongue in cheek generally, and from good Italian stock (or, at least, Italian stock!)
He says: Head of Racing at Coral, punter, blogger, part own Berberana and the #twitterhorses. Also father to Eva (4) + George (2).
I say: Frequent tweeter, often about the day’s racing. As a senior player for a bookie, he may be helping us… and he may not. [Hint: in fairness, I believe he plays with a straight bat]
He says: UK & Irish Horse Racing Computerised Form Book, System Builder, Research Tool and In Running Trading Module.
I say: It’s bizarre how few of the computer form generation have social media feeds. Suspect it relates to the joys of being a programmer and not wanting to interact with humans! In any case, Proform is a notable exception and, by all accounts, a damn fine piece of kit. I really must blag a free trial for us all…
He says: The Gentleman's Bookmaker, offering a friendly and professional service laying some of the biggest bets in the industry.
I say: Nice chaps. Tend to tweet about what they’ve laid. Cannot guarantee they have actually taken money for those horses, but it’s likely a reasonable barometer of market sentiment for those of you who are swayed by such things.
As I said, I'm keen for more of you to dip your toe into the warm Mediterranean waters of Twitter, and savour sound bites in easily digestible format from your favourite racing bods, and perhaps even me!
To sign up for a Twitter account, just go to https://twitter.com/ and follow the (very simple) prompts.
As and when you're a registered user, you can follow my suggestions above - should you so wish - by clicking their @name, and then clicking the 'Follow' button that appears in the newly opened window. Simples, as a certain fictional meekat of dubious origins might say.
And if you're already connected on there, do leave a comment/suggestion below as to who you reckon is well worthy of a 'follow'.