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Geegeez Writer Shortlisted for Derby Award

Geegeez chief writer - and founder/creator - Matt Bisogno has been named on the four man shortlist for Specialist Writer of the Year at the presitigious Horseracing Writers & Photographers Association's Derby Awards.

Matt, who was also nominated last year - the first time this award was presented - is the only writer to have been nominated in both shortlists. He is joined in the Specialist Writer category by elite scribblers and multiple Derby Award winners, Chris McGrath and Bill Barber, as well as newcomer Franck Mourier.

Matt's submissions were:

This year's Derby Awards, normally held in a West London hotel after a copious lunch, will be presented virtually and broadcast on Attheraces from 3pm this afternoon.

Other categories include Racing Writer, Racing Reporter, Emerging Talent, Photographer, Broadcaster, and Photograph of the Year. The full list of categories and nominees is below.

Good luck to Matt this afternoon!

Racing Writer of the Year
David Carr
David Jennings
Peter Thomas
Jonathan Harding

Racing Reporter of the Year
Bill Barber
Chris Cook
Lewis Porteous
Lee Mottershead

Broadcaster of the Year
Ed Chamberlin
Niall Hannity
Nick Luck
Jamie Lynch

Specialist Writer
Bill Barber
Matt Bisogno
Chris McGrath
Franck Mourier

Emerging Talent
Adam Houghton
Callum Jamieson
Nick Seddon
Josh Stacey

Photographer of the Year
Mark Cranham
John Hoy
Tracy Roberts
Hugh Routledge

Picture of the Year
Francesca Altoft
John Hoy
Tony Knapton
Tracy Roberts

Flat Jockey of the Year
Hollie Doyle
Tom Marquand
William Buick
Jim Crowley

Flat Trainer of the Year
John Gosden
William Haggas
Aidan O’Brien
Marcus Tregoning

 Jump Jockey of the Year
Rachel Blackmore
Brian Hughes
Barry Geraghty
Paul Townend

Jump Trainer of the Year
Nicky Henderson
Willie Mullins
Paul Nicholls
Fergal O’Brien

Owner of the Year
Hamdan Al Maktoum
JP McManus
Marie & Joe Donnelly
La Pyle Partnership

International Trainer of the Year
James Fanshawe
William Haggas
John Gosden
Kevin Ryan

 

New and Improved: Draw / Pace Display

We're at the start of a busy period of development within Geegeez Gold just now, and an early part of this work is to bring a couple of rather clunky elements of the visuals into the 21st century.

Specifically, we've smoothed our draw and pace chart curves; and we've made the pace heat map a bit less 'blocky'.

There is also a new view on the Pace tab - and a very interesting one at that.

Gold users can now see which parts of the draw are favoured by the respective run styles, as well as which horses sit where against that draw / run style underlay. It's quite difficult to explain, so have a look at the short video below and see what you think.

Plenty more coming soon!

Matt

p.s. the user guide has been updated accordingly and you can download the latest version from your My Geegeez page.

Stat of the Day: The 2016 Review

Saturday saw us reach the end of the fifth full calendar year for Stat of the Day, which was Geegeez' first real venture into daily tipping.

We know that we acquired lots of new subscribers over the year thanks to previous years' successes, so a brief overview of SotD is as follows...

Whilst form and other variable parameters come in to play when normally making a bet, SotD's first port of call is find runners who fit a stat ( or usually a number of stats) suggesting they will go well.

We aim to have the selection online by the time most people rise for breakfast, where possible and it's usually done well before midnight the night before the meeting.

Your first 30 days for just £1

We try to find runners priced around the 3/1 to 6/1 mark at BOG prices and look for some value in the odds achieved. A large proportion of our selections run at much shorter odds than we advise and constantly beating SP is a key in making long-term profits. Basically, our profit figures aren't massaged by some freakishly long priced winners, nor is our strike rate bolstered by a string of odds-on jollies.

What we do have is a consistent approach that aims to highlight one value selection per day and although this "one-a-day" stats-based approach to bet selection suffers all the obligatory peaks and troughs associated with betting on horses, we have managed to make a profit yet again this year.

Without blowing the collective trumpets of myself, Matt and now Steve, we're very proud of the figures accrued to date and we can safely say there aren't many (if any!) better services around. In fact, most paid-for services would kill for our figures.

Where possible, I'd like SotD to cover your subscriptions to Gold, making the rest of the site free to use as you see fit and in 2016, a level stake of £5.38 was all that was needed to cover a £249 per year annual subscription.

A full month-by-month analysis of SotD's results can, of course, always be found at
http://www.geegeez.co.uk/stat-of-the-day-month-by-month/ , but the overall picture for 2016 was as follows:

Number of bets/selections/pts wagered: 294 (quite a few non-runners this year)
Winning Bets: 70
Strike Rate: 23.81%

Yearly Profit: 46.24pts
Profit on Stakes Invested: 15.73%

These are quite impressive figures considering we give a selection every day rain or shine, if we say so ourselves and we'll be doing our level best to maintain our success in 2017.

Thanks for sticking with us/SotD,
Chris, Matt, Steve and the whole Geegeez team.

***Stat of the Day is just one component of the excellent package available to all Geegeez Gold Members, so why not take your £1/30-day trial now?

Click here for more details.

Just One Way To Profit From Geegeez

I don't usually like to "blow my own trumpet" about how useful, and profitable, the features in Geegeez Gold are... ...but yesterday I received an email from a Gold subscriber that I really wanted to share with you all.

It's not intended to gloat (of course), but rather, there are some very good pointers in there about how to use this particular report...

Hey Matt,

You might remember I emailed you a few months ago with some questions about your excellent Trainer / Jockey Combo report. I'd landed a 16/1 and 14/1 winner from 3 bets in a single day and was having to pinch myself after collecting £540 from my £2 each-way doubles. I wondered at the time if this was some kind of freak result, but I'm happy to report that it certainly wasn't!

Over the last few months I've continued to follow this report religiously and it's amazing how many big winners I've had from it. My best was a 25/1 shot, but I've had dozens of double-figure winners and at times I've managed to catch two or three of them in doubles and trebles too.

I've attached some screenshots for you to look at just from the last couple of weeks. This is by no means the best period I've had, but I'd been intending to email you anyway so started taking screenshots every day to give you something to back up my claims.

Each of the screenshots shows the selections I've chosen for the day opened up in the report. I tend to look for a strike-rate of around 30% and a place strike-rate of 50%+ wherever possible and I'm rarely interested in runners that are priced at 2/1 or under. You might see days on these reports where I don't have something with a high strike-rate open - this is usually because they're a non-runner, or the meeting was abandoned, which has happened a lot lately.

Something else to note is that I rarely touch the Irish racing. That's just a personal preference and I find that I usually get enough action every day from the UK racing so just haven't bothered too much with that. It might be equally profitable, but I can't say for sure.

I've written a little ditty for you to explain what happened each day...

22 January 2016

22 January 2016

22nd January - 3 selections - All Body And Soul was backed from 16/1 into 11/2 and won. Barton Lodge won at 7/1 and the other was second at 5/1! I picked up £600 that day from £10 e/w singles and £2 e/w doubles and trebles! If the other one had won it would have been over £2500 - sigh!

26 January 2016
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26 January 2016

26th January - 4 selections - Some of these either didn't run, or were too short for my liking, so I only backed the 4 big priced ones. Dartford Warbler was backed from 25/1 into 10/1 and finished a decent 2nd. For a while I was thinking it might actually do it, but alas it wasn't to be.

27 January 2016

27 January 2016

27th January - 2 selections - A quiet day, but He's A Dreamer was backed from 5/2 into 2/1 and won. The other was backed from 8/1 into 6/1 and finished a close second, only beaten 3/4 length.

28 January 2016

28 January 2016

28th January - 4 selections - Three Colours Red was backed from 14/1 into 8/1 and finished 2nd. Guapo Bay finished 3rd at 9/1 and Reilley's Minor finished 3rd at 4/1. The other I should have left alone, because the place strike-rate wasn't really high enough, but hey ho.

29 January 2016

29 January 2016

29th January - 3 selections - Logarithm finished 3rd at 7/1, Ragner was too short for me, Glan Y Gors was backed from 3/1 into 2/1 and finished 2nd and Wicked Spice was backed from 16/1 into 9/1 and finished 3rd. A decent profit made just from doing e/w singles and an e/w double on the bigger ones that day, but a bit of luck and it could have been so much better!

31 January 2016

31 January 2016

31st January - 4 selections - These are the kind of days you remember. Cantlow was backed from 5/2 into 11/10 and finished 2nd. Askamore Darsi won at 5/1 from 11/2. Card Game won at 8/1 from 9/1 and Firth Of The Clyde won at 4/1 too. My £2 Yankee on the four returned over £900 and then £10 singles on top, but if the shortest priced of the lot had done the business the Yankee would have paid the ridiculous sum of... drumroll please... over £4,400!!!

By the way, even my (normally just Placepot loving) wife has been bitten by the bug and on Sunday she placed a £1 yankee and a few small single bets on each of the selections...

Bet365 - Sunday Profits

Including the £32 she got back for the placepot, she collected £599 for an outlay of £63, so between us we lifted over £1,700 on Sunday. That will keep me in the good books for a while mate! 😉

1 February 2016

1 February 2016

1st February - 1 selection - Just one selection to kick the month off and Wavelet drifted from 2/1 to 3/1, but could only manage 2nd place. After the results from the day before, I wasn't too upset!

3 February 2016

3 February 2016

3rd February - 3 selections - The day was off to a flyer with Prideofthecastle winning at 8/1 and I was full of anticipation, because I actually quite fancied the other two, but two 2nd places at 4/1 and 9/2 (from 6/1) was all I could manage. Still, an 8/1 winner every day would be nice!

Of course, not every day is a winning one Matt and some days I struggle to find anything worth backing at all, but I just wanted to drop you a line to let you know how impressed I am with my subscription to Geegeez Gold and especially your Trainer / Jockey Combo report.

Just in the last couple of weeks I've paid for my subscription 10 times over!

All the best,

Andy

Pretty good, eh? I love hearing about subscribers' success, and this was a cracker of an email!

Remember you can sign up to Geegeez Gold for just £5 for your first 14 days and that will give you complete access to everything on the site, not just the Trainer Jockey Combo report, so why not do yourself a favour today and click the banner below to join now...

[Oh, and keep in mind that TJ Combo is free to all registered users every Saturday - you're welcome 😉 ]

CLICK HERE TO JOIN GEEGEEZ GOLD

 

30 Days of Geegeez Gold for £1

Stat of the Day: The 2015 Review

Last Friday saw us reach the end of the fourth full calendar year for Stat of the Day, which was Geegeez' first real venture into daily tipping.

We know that we acquired lots of new subscribers over the year thanks to previous years' successes, so a brief overview of SotD is as follows...

Whilst form and other variable parameters come in to play when normally making a bet, SotD's first port of call is find runners who fit a stat ( or usually a number of stats) suggesting they will go well.

We aim to have the selection online by the time most people rise for breakfast, where possible and it's usually done well before midnight the night before the meeting.

Your first 30 days for just £1

We try to find runners priced around the 3/1 to 6/1 mark at BOG prices and look for some value in the odds achieved. A large proportion of our selections run at much shorter odds than we advise and constantly beating SP is a key in making long-term profits. Basically, our profit figures aren't massaged by some freakishly long priced winners, nor is our strike rate bolstered by a string of odds-on jollies.

What we do have is a consistent approach that aims to highlight one value selection per day and although this "one-a-day" stats-based approach to bet selection suffers all the obligatory peaks and troughs associated with betting on horses, we have managed to make a profit yet again this year.

Without blowing the collective trumpets of both myself and Matt, we're very proud of the figures accrued to date and we can safely say there aren't many (if any!) better services around. In fact, most paid-for services would kill for our figures.

Where possible, I'd like SotD to cover your monthly subscriptions to Gold, making the rest of the site free to use as you see fit and in 2015, a level stake of £3.32 was all that was needed to cover a £24 per month worst case scenario.

A full month-by-month analysis of SotD's results can, of course, always be found at
http://www.geegeez.co.uk/stat-of-the-day-month-by-month/ , but the overall picture for 2015 was as follows:

Number of bets/selections/pts wagered: 287 (a large number of non-runners this year)
Winning Bets: 81
Strike Rate: 28.22%

Yearly Profit: 86.8pts
Profit on Stakes Invested: 30.2%

This is no flash in the pan freak year, as the abovce figures take the last two years results to 165/592 (27.87% SR) for 175.18pts profit at an ROI of 29.59%, showing remarkable consistency over a sustained perod of time.

These are quite phenomenal figures, if we say so ourselves and we'll be doing our level best to maintain our success in 2016.

Thanks for sticking with us/SotD,
Chris & Matt

***Stat of the Day is just one component of the excellent package available to all Geegeez Gold Members, so why not take your free trial now?

Click here for more details.

Why Horses Fall…

Data won’t tell you everything about why horses fall, writes Tony Keenan. There are too many intangible factors at play, variables that can’t be number-crunched. Race flow plays a big part; horses can be drawn into mistakes by how the race unfolds, be it the pace it is being run at or simply by being distracted by another runner jumping alongside it.

Physical issues can affect jumping; an underlying injury can be found out in the heat of battle while the effort of in-race exertion can cause a fresh problem. That’s not to mention mental issues: some horses seem unable to concentrate on jumping consistently or lack the self-preservation instinct to get from one side of a fence to the other.

But numbers can still tell us plenty, not least because of a large sample size of chases and fallers/unseats each season. Unless otherwise stated, I have looked at all Irish chases since the start of the 2003/04 season until the end of the 2014/15 campaign (in hurdle races, jumping just isn’t as important with fewer and smaller obstacles).

In that period, there were 4,932 chases with 57,626 runners; 6,107 horses fell or unseated, a faller rate of 10.6% with an average of 1.24 falls/unseats per race. When I refer to ‘faller rate’ I mean the combined number of falls and unseats.

 

Irish and UK Chase Faller Rate by Season

Season UK Ireland
2014/15 7.7% 9.9%
2013/14 7.1% 9.3%
2012/13 7.1% 8.7%
2011/12 8.3% 9.6%
2010/11 8.1% 10.5%
2009/10 9.3% 11.3%
2008/09 8.7% 11.9%
2007/08 9.1% 11.1%
2006/07 8.8% 10.3%
2005/06 9.6% 10.5%
2004/05 9.4% 11.7%
2003/04 10.4% 11.8%

 

The first thing that stands out is general downward trend of faller rate in the UK and Ireland over the period covered; there are some blips along the way as the table above shows but the broad picture is clear. On the whole, fences in the UK appear to be easier which isn’t the greatest surprise; the animal rights lobby, regardless of what you may think of them, are certainly stronger there than in Ireland.

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The Grand National fences are the most high-profile example of this but another interesting case, albeit with a small sample size, was made by Matt Tombs in his recent book ‘How to Bet and Win at the Festival’. Tombs points out that while there were 22 fallers at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival there were just eight in the most recent iteration, a marked decline. Irish faller rates are dropping too, though they remain higher than the UK which may help Irish horses on their raids as they are more tried and tested jumpers.

 

Irish Chase Faller Rate by Track since 2003/4

Track Faller Rate
Sligo 6.0%
Naas 6.5%
Roscommon 6.6%
Tramore 7.5%
Killarney 7.7%
Ballinrobe 8.0%
Wexford 8.2%
Kilbeggan 9.1%
Navan 10.2%
Galway 10.3%
Fairyhouse 10.9%
Punchestown 11.0%
Tipperary 11.0%
Limerick 11.2%
Leopardstown 11.3%
Gowran Park 11.4%
Downpatrick 12.0%
Clonmel 12.0%
Thurles 12.0%
Cork 12.6%
Listowel 12.7%
Down Royal 15.2%

 

Faller rates at the various Irish chase tracks produced surprising results, not least the bizarre mix of tracks that comprised the bottom five. Down Royal is a big galloping track with one of the widest circumferences in the country and a few tricky downhill fences that are met at speed, Listowel is flat and tight but they tend to stick close to the rail over fences and racing room is at a premium, Cork is flat and galloping, both Thurles and Clonmel have downhill fences but beyond that have few similarities.

Perhaps the most encouraging finding is where the main winter jumping tracks fall in the table. The big four of Leopardstown (eighth), Punchestown (eleventh), Fairyhouse (twelfth) and Navan (fourteenth) bunch around the middle which is a good sign as they host the majority of our graded races. These tracks should be fair, a test without being an ordeal, and the numbers suggest this is the case.

Down Royal is the outlier here. Not only is their chase track top in terms of faller rate, it is also 2.5% higher than any other track in the country and there is no bigger discrepancy between one track and the next anywhere else in the survey as there is between the highest and second highest. The fences at the Ulster course have long seemed ultra-stiff and it’s probably not the place to run an iffy jumper or even to start one off over fences.

 

Irish Chase Faller Rate by Trainer since 2009/10

Trainer Faller Rate
R. Tyner 5.5%
C. Roche 6.9%
C. Swan 7.9%
H. De Bromhead 7.9%
N. Meade 8.0%
F. Flood 8.2%
D. Hughes 8.4%
E. Bolger 8.7%
G. Elliott 8.9%
E. O’Grady 9.0%
P. Nolan 9.4%
A. Moore 9.4%
M. Morris 9.5%
M. Hourigan 9.8%
J. Mangan 9.9%
J. Harrington 10.4%
O. McKiernan 10.5%
T. Martin 10.6%
P. Rothwell 10.9%
J. Lambe 11.0%
W. Mullins 11.4%
C. McBratney 11.6%
C. Byrnes 12.0%
L. Burke 12.6%
J. Hanlon 12.7%
J. Walsh 15.8%
J. Ryan 16.7%
C. Murphy 18.1%

 

There is a host of contributing factors to why a trainer may have a high or low faller rate. The type of horses they typically handle plays a huge part; if they tend to get national hunt types, their faller rates should be lower as such sorts are more physically able to jumps fences while forcing flat types to do the same is a somewhat Sisyphean task. Good schooling facilities have to help too as would access to good jockeys, both for homework and on the track.

This table takes into account the top twenty-five trainers in terms of chase runners since 2009/10. Colm Murphy comes out worst on these numbers and he’s been cursed by some of the worst jumpers around in recent times. Zaarito (five falls/unseats), Big Zeb (four) and lately Empire Of Dirt (four) have all tried his patience though whether this is randomness or something to do with the trainer is impossible to say. The numbers suggest that Willie Mullins horses aren’t the best jumpers and the visuals back this up; a few of his stable stars have had their issues over fences but it hasn’t necessarily stopped them winning.

There isn’t a huge correlation between those with low faller rates and high return in terms of winning chases. I looked at trainers’ success rate in various types of races last month and the bottom five here – Tyner, Roche, Swan, De Bromhead and Meade – have a mixed record. De Bromhead (18.0% over fences since 2010) does very well, Tyner (12.0%) and Meade (11.7%) do ok while Roche (9.3%) is below average.

 

Irish Chase Faller Rate by Jockey since 2009/10

Jockey Faller Rate
M. Walsh 6.4%
B. Geraghty 6.8%
N. Madden 7.1%
T. Doyle 7.2%
P. Carberry 7.3%
A. Lynch 7.3%
P. Townend 7.5%
B. O’Connell 7.8%
A. McNamara 7.8%
A. Crowe 8.1%
R. Power 8.2%
P. Enright 8.3%
R. Walsh 8.4%
D. Condon 8.7%
D. Russell 8.8%
J. Cullen 9.1%
B. Cooper 9.6%
D. Casey 9.6%
M. Ferris 10.0%
A. Heskin 10.5%
S. Flanagan 10.8%
M. Darcy 11.2%
P. Mangan 11.6%

 

The sample size for fallers with jockeys is bigger than for trainers and their faller rates have nothing like as wide a spread. Like the trainers’ table above it takes into account the top twenty-five jockeys in terms of chase rides since 2009/10. The two JP McManus-retained riders come out very well, particularly the much-improved Mark Walsh who tops the table.

I certainly won’t get into jockey bashing here when you consider that one fifth of the riders listed above aren’t riding any longer; David Casey, John Cullen, Davy Condon, Andrew McNamara and Tom Doyle have all retired recently. One thing that emerges is the overall level of competency across the board; even the worst faller rate is only 1.3% higher than the national average since 2003/04.

- Tony Keenan

Stat of the Day: The 2014 Review

SotD: Review of 2013

SotD: Review of 2014

Today, New Year's Eve 2014, sees the end of the third full calendar year for Stat of the Day, which was Geegeez' first real venture into daily tipping.

We know we've acquired lots of new subscribers of late, so a brief overview of SotD is as follows...

Whilst form and other variable parameters come in to play when normally making a bet, SotD's first port of call is find runners who fit a stat ( or usually a number of stats) suggesting they will go well.

We aim to have the selection online by the time most people rise for breakfast, where possible and it's usually done before midnight the night before the meeting.

We try to find runners priced around the 3/1 to 6/1 mark at BOG prices and look for some value in the odds achieved. A large proportion of our selections run at much shorter odds than we advise and constantly beating SP is a key in making long-term profits. Basically, our profit figures aren't massaged by some freakishly long priced winners, nor is our strike rate bolstered by a string of odds-on jollies.

What we do have is a consistent approach that aims to highlight one value selection per day and although this "one-a-day" stats-based approach to bet selection suffers all the obligatory peaks and troughs associated with betting on horses, we have managed to make a profit yet again this year.

Without blowing the collective trumpets of both myself and Matt, we're very proud of the figures accrued to date and we can safely say there aren't many (if any!) better services around. In fact, most paid-for services would kill for our figures.

A full month-by-month analysis of SotD's results can, of course, always be found at
http://www.geegeez.co.uk/stat-of-the-day-month-by-month/ , but the overall picture for 2014 was as follows:

Number of bets/selections/pts wagered: 305
Winning Bets: 84
Strike Rate: 27.54%

Yearly Profit: 88.38pts
Profit on Stakes Invested: 28.98%

These are quite phenomenal figures, if we say so ourselves and we'll be doing our level best to maintain our success in 2015.

Thanks for sticking with us/SotD,
Chris & Matt

***Stat of the Day is just one component of the excellent package available to all Geegeez Gold Members, so why not take your free trial now?

Click here for more details.

A New Beginning for geegeez.co.uk?

This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end

Jim Morrison had it about right, when he warbled the above with The Doors.

After deep consideration, and with a very heavy heart, I've decided that it's time for me to walk away from geegeez.co.uk.

I have every hope that the site will continue to exist, and most likely in a very similar format to the current setup. But that's assuming a buyer can be found who shares the vision and ethos you've come to expect from this little dot in the pointillist digital landscape of the internet.

There are two reasons I've reached this decision, and they're linked.

Firstly, I've subsidized geegeez to a significant degree from my other business interests over the past year, and that's not something I can justify any more. More on the paradox of this in a moment.

And secondly, I'm tired and I need a change. Frankly, I think geegeez probably does too. This has been my lifeblood for five and a half years now, and it's come a very long way since that first post in August 2008.

 

The very beginning...

The very beginning...

 

Focusing on the first of those reasons for a second, I decided about this time two years ago to really kick on with geegeez.co.uk. It was doing well, providing me with a good living from talking gubbins about racing, and about betting systems and services. And it would have continued to do just that, but for one thing. I was bored.

geegeez virtually ran without input from me at the time, especially as I had help - firstly from Paul and, since June 2011, Chris has been my invaluable right hand man. That support gave me the space that every entrepreneur needs to stop being tactical - i.e. living from day to day, doing the same thing - and to start being strategic, i.e. develop a 'grand plan' for the way forward.

The grand plan had a simple mission statement: to make geegeez.co.uk the best free independent UK racing site on the 'net. I like to think we came close.

Of course, a business plan involves making money. After all, the first rule of business is that if you're not selling anything, you're not in business. (It's amazing how many businesses actually don't get that!)

geegeez was selling quite a lot of systems and services which had been reviewed on the site and our brilliant independent reviewers (thank you, guys!!!) were happy to recommend. It was thanks in part to their hard work that we were able to offer so much for so little. Or for free, to be more precise.

My new strategy involved publishing the racecards each day, and results, and having all sorts of cool - and easy to use - form study tools and reports. It also involved more interaction, through competitions and a tipping league.

Plus, I wanted to showcase some of the hottest new writing talent I could find. I couldn't afford the 'name' writers and, in any case, they've generally got too much to lose to say anything of real interest.

Indeed, the biggest 'name' I've been lucky enough to host on geegeez is Tony Stafford, senior member of the Fleet Street racing mob for many a decade. The cost of his services? A cup of tea and a bacon roll every other month. This tip top man, an absolute encyclopedia of racing, rises early most Sundays to pen some thoughts on the sport's to's and fro's of the last week or so. Plus, he hurls in a spot of Arsenal bluster here and there, but I can't begrudge him that! He does it gratis, bless him.

The writers published on these virtual pages have been expert in their areas, and have had pithy observations to make. Very little fence-sitting, but plenty of ballast to support their arguments. Just how it should be, and - though I say it myself - just how I wanted it.

But, Mr Stafford aside, they cost. Not fortunes, but they cost. Collectively, it comes to a fair sum each month. And there has never been any charge for that quality insight.

I'm sorry to say that I've had to stand the entire writing team down, with effect from the end of the month. Mal Boyle, the daily stats man; Andy Newton, and his Saturday TV and trainer trends; Tony Keenan's Irish views; Martin Pennington's excellent point-to-point knowledge; and, of course, Ian Sutherland, my news writer, for whom this particular news came in the week of his 1000th post on geegeez.

There have been others down the years too, but it's never easy to let people go, especially when they've not actually done anything wrong. It's a tremendous testament that some of the above named have offered to continue to write for free, a) because they love writing for people who actually show their appreciation for what they're doing, and b) because they'd like to write for the new owner(s), whoever that might be.

Then there's the racecards. For someone who spent ten years managing major software projects, it was an eye-opening experience getting those into being. Bootstrapping has been the order of the day. Scrimping on development costs by calling in favours from friends, and friends of the site who have become friends. My massive and sincere thanks go to Nige and Dave, whose hard work for little financial return - certainly compared to the market rate - has produced those things of beauty that help you find your picks each day.

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Johanne, my intern, has created perhaps the biggest business asset in his year with me. A raw rookie in work experience terms, he came to me with a first in creative computing for his degree, and he's learned more in one year sat in the office with me than he did in three years at university (by his admission). I want to record my thanks to him too.

Even employing an intern and 'mate's rates', the development exercise was expensive. Especially so after a failed outsource operation (mostly my fault rather than theirs, I should add). It was also time-consuming.

And who knew that when you have all this clever stuff happening on your website, and people are actually using it, that you might need more than £2 a month hosting?! 😉 Well, I do now...

Whilst doing all this, I dropped the ball a little on the system/service review side. In other words, at the same time as spending a ton of money on developing the site, I also reduced the incomings from the review side. Careless on my part.

In the end, it's been a hell of a year with staff and an office and data licensing costs and project management and and and.

Oh yes, and there was the small matter of being dad to a fantastic little lad, and wanting to spend as much time as I can with him.

I'll be honest. For the first time since geegeez.co.uk squinted its virtual eyes into the bright light of cyberspace, it has felt like having a J-O-B this year. But not just any old job. No, a job where you work doubly hard, are responsible for the livelihood of other people, and earn almost no money, because you're ploughing it all back into the business.

And that brings me onto my point two above: I'm tired.

As well as being dad I have had the business to run, a double life which millions of men carry off with staggering élan on a daily basis. Fair play to them, but it's taken me to the outer limits of my capacity and, if I wanted that I'd have carried on being an overpaid consultant to over-earning financial institutions. That's what I left back then to do this...

I've been marketing director, chief correspondent, managing editor, third line customer support (and first line too), chief operating officer, accountant, clerk, secretary, syndicate manager, and a bit more besides. Again, plenty of people do that. After all, it's what running a small business generally entails. And most of those poor bastards don't get to watch racing every day!

So, no sympathy required. Rather, I'm trying to articulate how we... I... came to be where we... I... are... am.

I always said I'd give this project until the end of the year to 'wash its face', but it hasn't, and I need to be a man and walk away. The weird thing - for me, not for any potential buyer - is that having gone through the nuts and bolts over the weekend, 2014 looks full of promise.

Most of the heavy lifting - development costs, data licensing, and the like - is now done. With the vast majority of the development work to produce cool reports and tools for those who want to bet on horse racing completed, for someone - most likely an existing racing publisher, I guess - this will make a great 'turnkey' investment.

I've given five and a half years of my professional life to it, and to you, geegeez' visitors and readers: its loyal and valued subscribers and, in many, many cases, friends. It's been the second best thing I've ever done, and to all who have supported me down the years, your part will sincerely never be forgotten, in the same way that it's never been taken for granted.

But I have to face harsh reality. I've never borrowed a penny in this business, and the fact that I never will is why I have to stop. I'm not commercially aggressive enough to make the investment of this year pay in the very short term, even as I can see the point where investment and return on investment pass each other.

My biggest 'mistake' has ultimately been to give too much away for nothing, when it was costing me something. Cumulatively, a pretty something. I've always believed in being inclusive and my lack of background in marketing has found me out in the end.

So when I recently invited you to trial the Gold service, most of you politely declined. That might have been because you were busy doing other things (apparently something quite significant happens in December each year - the King George on Boxing Day?). It might have been because you've got no money, or no desire to pay for an upgrade. Or it might have been because you get all you need from the free stuff on the site.

There is one other possibility: it might (very well) have been because I did a less than stellar job of 'selling' the free trial to you. For instance, you might not even know that Gold trialists currently have a hot-off-the-press Harry Fry stable tour, with a very dark horse expected to win first time out after a long layoff and a change of stable... 😉 Oh, and I probably ought to have said something about the 6/1 winner for the little system on the Gold subscribers' page too...

You see, whilst I have a very good model for selling products on a one off basis - as plenty of my now peers in the industry can attest - I've never really quite nailed the 'building an asset base' side of things in the way I'd probably have liked to. And that's because I keep giving high quality stuff away. It's hard to feel bad about that, and I don't, but I do feel it maybe should have worked out better than it did in the finish. Anyway...

The options as it stands then are:
1 - Sell up and walk away
2 - Find an investor and re-visit the current 'free line'
3 - Downsize back to a little blog site

Option 2 is not really an option for me. I don't especially want to 'co-habit' with an investor. I don't want to have to consider someone else's opinion in key decisions (notwithstanding that I recognize they might be far better placed to determine the right path).

And I really, really don't want to re-visit the current 'free line'. Put another way, I would find it nigh on impossible to justify charging for something like the Race Analysis Reports, which have been adored as a free facet of the site. That would feel a bit like a pusher offering crack for a few months before asking for money. I guess.

It's not something I can do, and I don't feel any compulsion to reconsider that stance. So Option 2 is a non-runner.

Option 1 - sell up and walk away - is my preferred option. It would, of course, be conditional, as I have a duty of care to those reading this to ensure that a prospective buyer shares at least the guts of my ethos for geegeez. It is also conditional on my valuation being met. Because of the first condition, I am prepared to take a hit on the second. What I'm not prepared to do is, excuse me, be bent over on this.

Which brings me to the third possibility...

Option 3 - downsize back to a little blog site - has some appeal if my valuation isn't met. But things would change markedly, and you and other readers may not derive the same value that you currently do from such a route forward.

Firstly, those brilliant writers would be scarcely affordable. Secondly, it's quite likely that I'd have to tear up the data licensing contract and, thus, the racecards and related reports would go too. The tipping league is driven off that data as well, so that would be out.

Like I say, it'd be back to me writing random thoughts on horse racing, a few tips from Chris and myself (Chris is now more indispensible to geegeez than me!), and some system and service reviews.

Moreover, because I'm completely 'cream crackered', I'd have to take a month out - at least - to recharge my flat batteries. So it'd be a quiet time for a while.

My preference, as I've said, is for Option 1. But I'll not sell you - or me - short on that, which does bring in Option 3. After a rest. (Bizarrely, if someone does step forward to buy the site, I'll likely end up working with them for a couple of months to handover, but will most certainly take my leave of absence thereafter!)

I do have a prospectus for interested parties - serious enquiries only please, and some demonstration of viability will be required before data is divulged - so if you might be interested in what is a brilliant opportunity for the right company, either to synergize with existing titles, or to take a first step into the racing niche, then please do contact me.

****

I must start to close by saying that this is very sad for me personally. Very sad. And it's desperately disappointing that it's come to this. It's also been really difficult telling people whose contributions I value so much that I can no longer showcase their talent. But that's where we are, I'm afraid.

So what happens next? Well, for the next few weeks, you're very unlikely to see any difference, except that there will be less content on the site after the end of the month. That likely means I'll be doing a bit more writing myself, so apologies for that in advance. 😉

Gold membership and the racecards will continue, at least until April, when the break clause in my license can be activated. So need to do anything just yet if you're a member of that esteemed community. (And if you're not, now might be a fine time to register...)

Thereafter, during January, things will be winding down on the editorial side unless/until a buyer is found. If you, or someone you know, might be interested, please get in touch. Serious enquiries only please.

We've had a great run since 22nd August 2008 - five and a half good years. And before that, since 23rd February 2007 when I wrote my first post on nag-nag-nag. That's nigh on seven years of blogging. As a consequence of my digital scribbles, I got to write a weekly column for The Irish Field, and a Cheltenham feature last year for attheraces.com, as well as having geegeez.co.uk featured in the Racing Post (though the assertion that the site had "a few serviceable posts" still rankles!)

This year, the site has had 786,454 visits from 220,189 unique visitors. They - you - have collectively viewed 3,913,990 pages. And over 73% of you are return visitors. There have been over 10,000 posts, and 17,645 comments (none of which are spam, and all of which have been manually moderated by myself or Chris).

More good news for a potential buyer is that those figures are a step up on 2012, and offer solid evidence that the site's popularity continues on an upward curve.

 

Some tidy numbers for geegeez this year...

Some tidy numbers for geegeez this year...

 

Since February 2007, I've personally written well over two MILLION words. In fact, with comment replies and the like, it's probably over three million!

Given that your average novel weighs in at somewhere between 80,000 and 120,000 words, that's close to thirty volumes in seven years. No wonder I've got RSI. (Did I mention I'm starting to get RSI?!)

So we've done a lot right. Unfortunately, I've done one thing wrong. I've not made enough money to pay the bills, and to keep my family in a way I'd want to. Bills which grew considerably in 2013, and a family which has also grown by 50%, as I've tried to take geegeez to the next level.

Although the bills will be a fair bit lower in 2014 with a number of one off costs now sunk, I remain knackered.

I don't regret trying, though I'm disappointed by my failure to achieve the business objectives I set out for geegeez. And it's perfectly fair to say that I under-estimated the enormity of the challenge, with all the management decisions - be they technical, marketing, strategic, or logistical - posted through one door: mine.

So, for now at least, many thanks for reading this post - and the likely large number of previous contributions you've perused at this virtual address - and please keep dropping by, as nothing will change in the short term. Plus, how else will I keep you updated of any developments on the future?!

In the meantime, if you'd like to encourage a potential buyer (or just help cheer me up!) by demonstrating the affection you have for the site, then please do leave a comment below. In any case, you have my heartfelt thanks for being a part of this adventure for so long, and I hope you understand my reasons for arriving at the crossroads I am now.

Thank you.

Matt