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A day in the life of a ....Trader

29 March 2012

SPORTS traders invest in sports events in much the same way as stockbrokers trade commodities or shares. The odds given for each race or event change as the market fluctuates. The changes are caused by a wide range of factors such as weather, ground conditions, how punters place their bets, to name but a few. It is a sports trader’s job to invest in the long-term value of different sports teams, players or racers taking into account what other traders are doing and making sure their events are priced correctly.

Tim Smith, a senior horseracing trader with Coral, gives a behind-the-scenes insight into what it takes to be a trader.

How did you get involved in this role?
I worked for Heathorns on course and in their Godalming office after leaving university. Heathorns then went offshore and I moved to what was then Coral Eurobet. I traded all sorts of sports on Eurobet’s international website before moving back into racing with Coral five years ago.

What attracted you to the job?
I’ve been betting on horses ever since my dad first took me racing as a kid, and I always wanted to work in bookmaking. At Coral and Heathorns I’ve been lucky to work for two firms who place an emphasis on horseracing.

What is a typical day like?
I get into the Stratford office shortly after 8am and glance through the Racing Post before doing the odds for the meeting I have been allocated. We compile
and trade one meeting each a Bookmaking rewards those who put work in day, so I’ll have looked at my races the previous afternoon.  I compare my tissue to the industry tissue to which we subscribe and, having ironed out any market moves and tippedup horses, I distribute odds to go up across all our channels by 9.30. I then trade my races throughout the day, monitoring bet s and changing pr ices accordingly. Through the morning I add derived markets (match bets, distance betting etc) and then look for any ante-post markets that can be offered. The afternoon is spent watching the racing and pricing up the next day’s races. Given the amount of data now available at the click of a button the one big advantage we retain over the average punter is our ability to watch every race, so watching the action is as important as anything we do even though it might sound a bit lazy.

What is your favourite part of the job?

You can’t beat the atmosphere in the office during the big meetings. Everyone in the company knows the horses we need beaten and it’s the next best thing to being at the track – unless they all win!

Which part of your job would you like to change?
The missus will tell you it’s the hours because I work most Saturdays and a few Sundays, but I am used to it now and it gives me the chance to play golf during the week. There are times when I’d love a weekend off, but I’d probably only be on the phone checking the racing results anyway!

What is the career progression in your role?
Most of our racing team do it because they love the game, but Coral bosses are not afraid to give responsibility to those who earn it.We have a young team and the bookmaking industry rewards those who put the work in, irrelevant of age. There are three key tasks every trading team must do: compile odds, trade markets and manage clients. How these tasks are covered depends on the individual approach of the company but some roles include a bit of everything and others focus on one of those key areas. There are lots of opportunities.

What advice would you give to someone considering a similar role?
When you go to college, spend as much time in the betting shop and at the racecourse as you do in lectures! There is no substitute for knowing your horses and, while sound maths and a level head are important, the overriding thing we look for in racing traders is an instinctive knowledge and love of the sport.

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