Family time: with dad, Leon, Carole and May

Today I am 50

Exactly ten years ago, I wrote a blog post entitled "Today I Am 40", which you can read here should you be so inclined. Being mathematically astute, you will have figured out that a full decade has since passed and I am now marking the milestone (millstone?) that is fifty.

40 was a largely pleasurable moment, reminiscing with fondness on aeons of vague recklessness in the years theretofore. Fifty, it's a word not a number, feels somewhat more ominous. For anyone so presumptuous as to believe a hundred is achievable, it represents halfway; as the transit through a fifth decade has increasingly frequently reminded me, 80 might be considered a very fine stint and, as such, one is now well into the back nine. Such mortal self-awareness has some legitimacy, as will emerge before the end of the page.

If that's as sombre an overture as has perhaps ever been scribbled in this virtual notebook, allow me to indulge a moment or three further, and to paint a spot of colour into that dark initial outline. Actually, some bright flourishes.

The '40' post offered a potted history of a lifetime to that point; here I will merely fill in the gaps since then, many of which have been shared with the longer-suffering amongst you (sincerely, THANK YOU) in real time.

Shortly after my 40th - note, not immediately after! - young Leonardo was conceived and, in September 2012, he arrived. Just about every mum and dad will recall with seems-like-only-yesterday lucidity the early reactive struggles of clueless parenting. They soon (relatively) give way to a lifetime of joy - at least from where I'm sitting prior to the teenage years - and I can honestly say that each year with Leon has been more of a pleasure than the one which preceded it.

Carole (Mrs Matt from older personal accounts) and I are extremely fortunate to have carved out livings in a way that allows us to be at, or close to, home most of the time. That means Leon has been a little spoiled for parental attention or, to spin that more positively, has been given every opportunity to show academic and generous-spirited aptitudes. It is my very great pleasure to relate that he has accepted all such figurative invitations to date. Just turned nine, he's a kind, funny, bright, loving, inquisitive, charming, thoughtful, handsome young man. And, obviously, he is the apple of his dad's (and his mum's) eye. He is also lucky enough to have perfect health, as have we all, touch wood, and that is one of the things for which time - and experience - has given me a far deeper appreciation.

In 2013, I conceived my second child, almost as beloved as the first. Yes, Geegeez Gold emerged threshing and wailing, burping and farting into the bright lights of the internet and onto a screen near you. Having previously overseen a portfolio of websites (with help from many people, notably Chris - my mainstay and right hand here), I took the decision to dump them all bar geegeez.co.uk and to instead double down by building "the best racecard and form tool website in Britain". That was my ambition eight years ago and, while it is maybe not for me to judge [we have won gongs, don't you know? 😉 ], I feel we've come at least pretty close to that bold aspiration.

It obviously didn't happen overnight; and it didn't happen without the endeavour of some very smart people - Dave, Nige, Paul, Jean-Francois - and me a bit, too. Since 2014, your subscriptions have fuelled the development of the service, and they continue to do that. We've added so many features, too many to mention, but perhaps the stroke of genius/luck (there's a fine line, right?) was the very first thing I created: Instant Expert, or the unsexily-named 'Race Analysis Report' in its first incarnation.

That simple view, which can deconstruct the entire form history of all the runners in a race in, literally, seconds is the 'go to' for many Gold'ers even after myriad features and functions, metrics and matrices, have been subsequently added. And understandably so; it remains a core part of my 'first pass' research also.

Geegeez Gold is reaching maturity now, by which I mean it has become hard to add features of earth-shattering utility because most of them are already there. Nevertheless, the workstack continues to grow and things on the near- to mid-term 'to do' list include a big Query Tool overhaul, further sectional additions (including, hopefully, the remaining course data), a Profiler page, and potentially some big race trends pages. There is always more to add!

As well as investing in the software, and the editorial on site (most of it brilliantly provided by others this year, though I definitely plan to get back writing in 2022), we've been able to sponsor a few of the actors, too. Currently, the Champion Apprentice (and Champion All-Weather Apprentice - a double I don't think any other rider has achieved) Marco Ghiani (85 winners in the past year), fourth-placed finisher in the Flat Championship David Probert (169 winners in the past year), and the shrewd and ascendant jumping yard of Anthony Honeyball - as well as his two stable jockeys, Rex Dingle and Ben Godfrey - all sport the geegeez.co.uk logo with swash and buckle. And all are top blokes, too: that's been a very great personal pleasure for me in recent years.

*

Since 40, that previously alluded to autobiography illustrated with a picture of a trifle made by my mother, I'm sad to impart that, in August 2015, she passed away suddenly, aged 70.

In August 2019, having been diagnosed only two months previously, my sister Celeste also passed. She was 54. That was in many ways a greater shock. The loss of a loved brother or sister is more poignant than that of a loved parent, at least it was for me: we expect to outlive our parents, we don't take such liberties with our siblings.

I don't mind admitting that, for six months or so, that - excuse me - knocked the absolute bollocks out of me. All passing loved ones are tough to bear, some tougher still.

*

The world kept turning while I wasn't really paying attention to it and, from that difficult stanza, I came out swinging on the business front. 2020 was going to be a year of transformation. I hired marketers, we had a plan to expand socially (one of the biggest challenges of growing a business like geegeez.co.uk is that we are so heavily constrained in terms of where we can advertise - sigh), we had a new office from which to expedite this scaling mission... and then, Covid.

Belt tightening was the first order of business for every commercial entity not owned by Jeff or Zuck (nauseating little megalomaniacs that they are), and geegeez was no different. The timing of expansion plans was thus horrendous. Thanks in major part to the understanding and kindness of the geegeez community we rode out that storm, and came back firing from June onwards.

Changes in the development team slowed progress for a while but we are now on a better than even keel, and looking forwards once more.

*

I've been doing a few different things alongside geegeez since stepping back from the huge time vacuum that is the Horseracing Bettors Forum, of which I was a founder member and latterly Chair for a while. There's the tennis project, TennisProfits.com, created by the brains of Steve 'Goal Profits' Brown and Paul 'Tradeshark' Shires, and me; and I've been playing with crypto investing for a few years, too.

(Investing is too strong a term. I started out with eight Bitcoin, which I bought for £300 each, and have managed to fritter most of that away via Ponzi schemes and altcoin 'diversification'. Here's what I've learned: put 85%+ into Bitcoin and guess your best guess on the rest. There will be big winners while most go to zero, and it is still too early to say especially convincingly which will be which. But Bitcoin is very likely here to stay. N.B. this does NOT constitute financial advice. Duh!)

*

And now, here I am at fifty. Try as I might I've not yet got my head around the number. I know it's a 'thing', this mild midlife crisis, fifty-itis: like all the other stuff I've referenced above, encountered and experienced by many/most of those at such a vintage. And, like many/most, I'll get over it and press on.

Leon is growing up and, if I'm lucky enough to get to another birthday ending in zero, he'll have just about flown the coop. At that point, I'll be able to say that I've achieved the big things I wanted to achieve, both personally and professionally; though of course I still have unfulfilled ambitions on both scores (many of them revolving around racehorse ownership - first world dreams!)

When I was forty, I didn't think, "where will I be when I'm fifty?". And I didn't know Geegeez Gold would become the thing that it has. And I definitely didn't know that 'young man' would illuminate every day with his casual facility.

So, why worry about sixty? Or even fifty-one. Carpe diem.

Matt

p.s. it's very unlikely you've read this far if you don't know me - and geegeez - very well already. But in the unlikely event that that is the case, you can get full Gold access for the next week or so just be registering a free account. Here's the link you need for that.

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27 replies
  1. 10 Things You Didn't Know about Geegeez Racecards
  2. Steve Mullington
    Steve Mullington says:

    Many happy returns for the big 50! Almost there myself – I think I will go to a major world horse race to celebrate all being well.

    Reply
    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Cheers Mully – chase the big days is my advice, especially if you can get away somewhere warm for one!

      Matt

      Reply
  3. brogan
    brogan says:

    Congratulations and best wishes on reaching a considerable milestone, Matt. Many thanks to you-and your team-for making Geegeez what it is today, an achievement you should be incredibly proud of.
    Dave

    Reply
  4. steinap
    steinap says:

    Happy Birthday, hope you had a good one. The site is very good and the free content is well above average.

    Reply
    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Cheers David. Was just talking about you the other day with Carole. Hope you’re doing well, very long time no see.

      Matt

      Reply
      • David Wagstaff
        David Wagstaff says:

        Far too long mate. I’m good thanks, had a few curve balls thrown at me over the last few years but back on track now.
        Hope you, Carole and jnr are all ok. You must have better things to talk about than me though!!

        Reply
  5. jethro
    jethro says:

    A very happy birthday to you Matt! You’re still a spring chicken compared to me – I actually turn the big 60 next Sunday and can’t say I’m exactly embracing the idea with both arms! Hey ho… Many thanks for your years of great service…

    Reply
  6. acranea
    acranea says:

    Happy Birthday & welcome to the 50+ club. Been a member myself for a fair while & it suits me that it’s a little quiter than some of the other clubs I’ve been a member of. Also a little slower & more relaxed !

    Also, you are now officially old enough to be an average UK racing fan.

    Enjoy your day Matt

    Reply
  7. Doggish
    Doggish says:

    Happy Birthday Matt.
    A milestone indeed. Hope you have a great day, and party or whatever you are going to do.
    If you want any advice/ thoughts on going forward, when i was 40 i decided that the rest of my
    life i would live on my terms(within reason) with no stress. I have now had 32 years of bliss
    Keep up the good work with Geegeez it is superb. Hugh Strathearn. (Doggish)

    Reply
  8. Richard Noy
    Richard Noy says:

    Happy birthday, you absolute legend! As I’ve said before, you created what I dreamed about five years before you started. I was lucky enough to find you and start following your progress from the beginning and am proud to be one of your life members. My big wins have always been fuelled by gems within Geegeez Gold, since it was launched. Your genius of bringing a better comprehension of value and tools with which to find it, to us avid punters, can never be underestimated or applauded too much! I salute you. As a young 75 year old I can confirm that your best years are yet to come – enjoy every one! Very best wishes, Richard

    Reply
  9. vincemurphy1963
    vincemurphy1963 says:

    Happy birthday bonny lad. You should be very very proud of all you have achieved. It’s a stunning product and quite simply the best out there. Well done young man! Vince

    Reply
  10. Matt Bisogno
    Matt Bisogno says:

    Thank you all so much for your lovely words. It continues to be a genuine honour and pleasure to be working for you. Will raise a glass to my good fortune tonight.

    Matt

    Reply
  11. N17
    N17 says:

    Happy Birthday Matt.

    You don’t look a day over 49 (ha,ha!).

    You are still young at 50, especially to us old ‘uns.I’m looking forward to reading about your 60th birthday if I am still around.

    Take care and enjoy your celebrations.

    Nigel

    Reply
  12. nickywicki
    nickywicki says:

    Happy birthday from another older than you, it always has just been a number, you are as old as you feel !! The site you have created is the best around by far and although I’m not a permanent member it is still my go to website for most info and whenever I go racing the short term subscriptions are like your site-gold ! Keep up the great work

    Reply
  13. pfebrey
    pfebrey says:

    hope you had a great day Matt. im 50 myself next year so food for thought, I may well do a 40-50 piece.

    still trying to find the pot of gold on Geegeez. keep trying!

    Reply
  14. TomWool
    TomWool says:

    Belated Birthday Greetings Matt.

    Thanks for sharing your ‘post-40yo’ update, being 50 is but a distant memory for me.
    Wishing you continued health and success, I look forward to reading your ‘Today I am 60’ post!

    Reply
  15. jimmythegoff
    jimmythegoff says:

    Happy belated birthday Matt, all the best. You have created a great site and, unlike some of the bigger websites out there, Geegeez is 100% on the side of us punters.

    Reply

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