It’s that time of year, the sun is shining (albeit intermittently), the spring flowers are sprouting and a good many of the population become experts in horse racing; ah yes, it’s the Grand National weekend.
Many people, like myself, who have no interest in horse racing the rest of the year, feel compelled to ‘have a go’ at the Grand National. For some, an amusing name or pretty coloured jockey hat is enough to warrant a £1 each way bet, or if feeling confident, £2 to win; for others though, there is a bit more thought put into deciding which horse to back in their annual flutter.

So, how will you be choosing your horse?

I have a full proof plan; I look at the age, nationality and weight allowance of the horse to cut down the list to a more reasonable number. There are 40 horses and it just isn’t in the spirit of the race to put a pound on them all. Age is slightly irrelevant this year as the minimum for entry has changed; Irish is best, occasionally the French get a look in but I like to go with my home country of Ireland; and lastly, the horse should not have a handicap of too high or too low a weight, but higher weights are becoming more successful. These rules normally whittle the numbers down to about 15 horses. From the remaining horses, I read up on their past performances; how they have performed over similar distances and then ultimately, pick the ones with the names I like. As a true analytics professional, I know where to draw the line when it comes to chance, in this situation – there are 25 lines to be aware of, otherwise known as fences.

Of course, you can just follow the pundits’ tips to make your choices. The BBC has collated their selections (BBC pundits). Of course, they are all different, with the most common horses predicted to win: Chicago Grey, On His Own, Always Right and Killyglen with two first place predictions each. However, Cappa Blue was placed 5 times out of 12 and Killyglen, West End Rocker and Ballabriggs all being named 4 times each in various places by this selection of tipsters. With Killyglen’s Irish roots, it may well be getting my backing following this review; of course this is all for fun and we are not responsible for any betting pattern you decide upon.

Place your bets…

So once the horses are chosen – by foolproof algorithms, pretty jockey colours or otherwise; it’s time to place your bets. It was once traditional to head down to the bookies to place that annual bet, but now it seems that as a nation we are moving much more towards the digital age when it comes to betting.
Many of the major bookmakers have launched online platforms to expand their channels; however they do not see this channel as a strict alternative to their retail stores and telephone betting systems, but as a situational choice for their punters. Since the launch of their online platforms, the net revenue generated by their telephony systems has decreased steadily; however the growth in net revenue through online has more than made up for this.

Bookmakers are transforming with the changing digital world. Mobile betting is now taking off, and not just in a singular way. Betting apps, text features and mobile games are all methods that are being used to try and take advantage of the fascination with mobiles.

With an estimated £2.5billion gross win (revenue after payout) in the gambling industry, it is no wonder that bookkeepers are keeping up with the latest trends and technologies to attract their customers. An estimated 10% of UK adults bet on a regular basis. There are only 5 main companies present on the high street but there are many more online and through telephony services. It is also known that punters are not a loyal breed outside of the retail area, therefore it is important for these companies to provide platforms that will continue to attract their regular customers, as well as the increasing passing trade of multiple accounts betting punter.

The betting companies know their customers; many of their online customers are also using the mobile applications. Many of the punters using these methods are educated males under 35, so the applications are targeted at this market. Customer accounts provide a wealth of information to be able to carry out customer analytics; using this information the companies are able to tailor their offerings to a target market based on past performances. This is all in the power of customer analytics.