Meet the Paddy Power Horse Racing Traders: Who are these shrewd savants?

Ever wondered who these people are? And what their punting philosophy is? Well, wonder no more.

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They’re a secretive bunch. They’re the odds compilers. They’re the wizards who study the form, the shrewdies who know the yards inside out and even the lickar*es who know the cut of the grass to the centimetre. Ladies and gents, meet our racing traders.

As we launch our weekly ‘Traders’ NAPS of the Day’ column, we thought it was only fair that you knew who each of them was that was putting their name behind their best bet of the day.

Read: Our Traders’ NAPS of the Day Column

Niall O’Reilly

Did you always plan to work in the racing/betting industry?
It’s always been something I’ve had a massive interest. I studied Accounting in college though from an early stage I didn’t see it as a long term career that I’d enjoy. So rather than become a failed accountant when I finished my degree, I decided to take a chance and pursue a role in the betting industry.

Give us a successful horse you spotted early on their route to the top?
Recency bias maybe, though I did latch on to Pinatubo as potentially top-class early enough in his career. This is definitely after-timing, though I made him favourite over Lope Y Fernandez (who went off a strong fav) the day he won the Chesham. I got the prices quite wrong though the result right, which is better than the other way round in my opinion!

What factor/factors do you think punters place too much emphasis on?
Collateral Form. I don’t think it’s irrelevant though it doesn’t tell you much without digging more into performances.

What factor/factors do you think is largely overlooked by punters?
I’d still say sectionals, despite them becoming more and more heavily used as people spot their value. I’d rarely have a bet on the flat without referencing sectionals for a horse, and when compiling I’d check nearly every horse in the field if I thought it might be relevant.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone analysing a horserace?
On the flat I’d say use times/sectionals, following on from my above point. This might sound obvious, though I’ve been paying much more attention to horses that can jump well and get into a rhythm (which involves more video analysis), something which I might have been guilty of not paying enough attention to in the past.

The one horse that’s in your tracker right now?
Starcat – I had been backing him for the Derby though was surprised when I heard they were going for the Guineas first (backed him ew for it too though). I was really impressed with him on debut in a very good race at Kempton, where he was very good on the clock for a two-year-old debutant. I think he could prove top class this season.

Favourite jockey and trainer right now?
I don’t tend to get too tied to trainers or jockeys, though I do think Colin Keane is a top-class rider who rarely gives a horse a bad ride. I can see him being the best around in a few years, will surely get a chance at the Ballydoyle job at some point.

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Ryan McCue

Did you always plan to work in the racing/betting industry?
I always wanted to work within the racing industry and when I found our journalism wasn’t for me I applied for a job with Betfair 6 years ago and it started from there.

Give us a successful horse you spotted early on their route to the top?
My Tent Or Yours.

What factor/factors do you think punters place too much emphasis on?
Position in the market.

What factor/factors do you think is largely overlooked by punters?
The likely way a race is going to be run.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone analysing a horserace?
Forget about the front few horses home and try and spot horses further back that have caught your eye for one reason or another.

The one horse that’s in your tracker right now?
Breezy Bell.

Favourite jockey and trainer right now?
Danny Mullins and Eddie Cawley.

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Donal McKenna

Did you always plan to work in the racing/betting industry?
I got a summer job in a betting shop at 18 and got absorbed in the game very quickly

Give us a successful horse you spotted early on their route to the top?
I was pricing a standard Santa Anita card one Sunday morning and got very taken by an unraced Bob Baffert 3-year-old with some electric works then a few weeks later he won an allowance race by 10 lengths with Mike Smith not having to move a muscle. He ended his season unbeaten and as the 13th US triple crown winner.

What factor/factors do you think is largely overlooked by punters?
I have been bemused often by punters writing off a horse after a bad performance without much thought to analyse as to the why he ran bad and will such factors be present again in his next race.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone analysing a horserace?
Price the race to 100%. When you tissue a race you get a much more detailed feel for a race, there are some free overround calculators online to get you started.

The one horse that’s in your tracker right now?
Cezanne.

Favourite jockey and trainer right now?
Pierre Charles Boudot and Jane Soubagne.

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James Ryan

Did you always plan to work in the racing/betting industry?

Horse Racing is always an industry that I wanted to be in. My father, trains/breeds/pinhooks so I grew up with horses all around me. While other kids when I was young were watching The Simpsons I was watching the 8.10 in Wolverhampton. When I realised training wasn’t for me I went and did a Maths degree and the two interests just collided when I managed to get into the Paddy Power Racing department. I still maintain a foot in the racing game and have a few bits of horses here and there. Was lucky enough to breed Silk Forest who hopefully will have a big year in 2020.

Give us a successful horse you spotted early on their route to the top?
While he didn’t quite make it to the very top I love finding horses who appear to have run badly on debut. Success Days debut in Galway is one that stands out. I was working pro bono in a hedge fund in London at the time so when he came out and broke his duck on his next start I could.

What factor/factors do you think punters place too much emphasis on?
The concept of Trainer Form is something that I feel the media and punters place too much emphasis on. It can be assumed off a very small sample size that they are in good/bad form. Only have to look at Andre Fabre when the French season started back. His horses on the opening day didn’t run well and people were slating his “Form”. Since then he had a 24% strike rate and a Guineas winner. Similarly can look at Elliot and Willie a few years ago at Cheltenham when they have a poor opening day. Their horses are considered “not in form” and I feel the media can put punters off them unnecessarily.

What factor/factors do you think is largely overlooked by punters?
While it is becoming more common I still believe the majority of punters are overlooking time/sectionals/striding data. This could be for several reasons as it is not a publicly available resource which was promised in Ireland anyway several years ago. But this data could lead to a whole new set of inquisitive minds getting involved/have an interest in Horse Racing.

While I feel sectionals data is now often built into the market, in order to fully understand the total picture of a race, a punter should have an understanding of how pacing works. I know my choose 5, do 5km time could have done with some better pacing. It’s the same concept with horse racing.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone analysing a horserace?
Watch the whole race. Often the most important part of a race is the first two furlongs. Did a horse get pushed wide, get a bump, not settling correctly. All these added pieces of information are the important parts of the story when you see a horse backtracking when one just looks at the “finishing stages” of a race. Anyone can spot the quick closer, but it’s the ones that don’t finish well for a variety of reasons that will be overpriced on their next start provided you’ve spotted something from the start of the race.

The one horse that’s in your tracker right now?
Make It Rain. Just praying the handicapper puts her up a few lbs for her excellent run at Yarmouth on the 3rd of June. And the Crisford team drop her back in trip to a mile. Her striding data would suggest that’s what she wants.

Favourite jockey and trainer right now?
Ronan Whelan and Jonathon Portman is criminally underrated.

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Conor Magner

Give us a successful horse you spotted early on their route to the top?
Dunguib in three bumper wins culminating in Cheltenham paid for my first year in college.

What factor/factors do you think punters place too much emphasis on?
Recency bias towards last run.

What factor/factors do you think is largely overlooked by punters?
The flipside of the above, you can often spot when a horse us returning to its optimum conditions from studying back form.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone analysing a horserace?
Turn off the commentary.

The one horse that’s in your tracker right now?
Gee Rex (Joseph O’ Brien).

Favourite jockey and trainer right now?
Danny Mullins (most improved NH rider in the last 3 years) / Charles Byrnes (fellow Limerick man who rarely misses).

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Frank Hickey

Did you always plan to work in the racing/betting industry?
I was always good at Maths and a fan of studying the form but I decided that the “safe route” was to go into accounting. I spent eight miserable years working in accounting before I decided to bite the bullet and leave that industry to pursue a job with Paddy Power. It took numerous applications before I got an interview but the persistence proved worthwhile and I’m over seven years with the company now.

Give us a successful horse you spotted early on their route to the top?
Withhold before he won the Cesarewitch and he is now rated 24 pounds higher. Finding another one of those would do no harm.

What factor/factors do you think punters place too much emphasis on?
Following trainers and jockeys blind

What factor/factors do you think is largely overlooked by punters?
Times and sectionals are definitely not on the radar of the average punter, potentially because it can appear complicated to analyse them properly. In saying that, more and more are starting to use them and it probably won’t be long before the edge from using them will be eroded.

What’s one piece of advice would you give to someone analysing a horserace?
Watch races back and don’t be afraid to watch them a couple of times. Keep notes on horses and use a tracker.

The one horse that’s in your tracker right now?
Rovaniemi. I think he can win a decent handicap this season.

Favourite jockey and trainer right now?
Daniel Todhope and Nigel Tinkler

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Lorcan O’ Rourke

Give us a successful horse you spotted early on their route to the top?
Legatissimo after her win at Gowran.

What factor/factors do you think punters place too much emphasis on?
The bare result of a horses previous run. Getting sucked into a ‘plot’ horse because of connections. Having an edge overnight is an artificial edge.

What factor/factors do you think is largely overlooked by punters?
Understanding the pace of a race and being able to spot the not so obvious unlucky in running horses.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone analysing a horserace?
Probably the same answer as above.

The one horse that’s in your tracker right now?
Kodigreen, eyecatching not beaten far in a hot maiden. Opening mark will be interesting.

Favourite racecourse/meeting and why?
York. Royal Ascot – highest quality flat racing of the year, although with the increase in number of races it could get very diluted.

Favourite jockey and trainer right now?
Colin Keane and Paddy Twomey

Conor Murphy

Give us a successful horse you spotted early on their route to the top?
Saw Annie Power win her debut for Jim Bolger around Galway

What factor/factors do you think punters place too much emphasis on?
Jockeys/Trainers “in form”. There’s some substance to it but gets overplayed largely.

What factor/factors do you think is largely overlooked by punters?
The pace/tempo in a race.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone analysing a horserace?
Give even the bad ones a chance before you cross them off. Every dog has its day.

The one horse that’s in your tracker right now?
Has become slightly more obvious in the last month but Ocean Atlantique, trained by Andre Fabre. Group 1 (Classic) winner in waiting.

Favourite jockey and trainer right now?
Whoever Tom Marquand rides for or Pierre-Charles Boudot/Andre Fabre.

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Sean O’Sullivan

What is your position in the trading room?
International Racing Team Lead

Give us a successful horse you spotted early on their route to the top?
Justify.

What factor/factors do you think punters place too much emphasis on?
Bare form.

What factor/factors do you think is largely overlooked by punters?
Race shape/make up.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone analysing a horserace?
Look for horses that ran against the bias of the race (a frontrunner not beaten far in a race with too much pace or a horse that closed into a slowly run race).

The one horse that’s in your tracker right now?
Cezanne.

Favourite racecourse/meeting and why?
Del Mar/Breeders Cup – where the turf meets the surf. Unbeatable.

Favourite jockey and trainer right now?
Jose Ortiz/Graham Motion

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