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From beaches of Antigua to the Ladbrokes office

08 August 2011

Jon Thompson, Ladbrokes liabilities director 

Age 43 

Job history: I became part of the new team at Ladbrokes at the end of February. I was previously at Bodog, Scandinavian company Expekt, and Aussie firms Centrebet and International All Sports

How did the Ladbrokes offer emerge? I was approached by a recruitment agency last autumn. Initially, they don't tell you the company; when I realised it was Ladbrokes, I became excited. For anyone born and bred into the UK betting business, the redand white sign on the High Street represents the long-term world market leader. 

What was working at Bodog like? I'd term it a buccaneering brand. It was fun, but they understood how much I relished the Ladbrokes opportunity - despite a culture change from the beaches of Antigua! 

What is your relationship like with your new chief executive? Richard Glynn is a vibrant character who requires a fortnightly trading update from me. He's shaking things up and is keen on trading tools like those employed in the City, which involve elements such as predictive algorithmic patterning. Will you be making changes at Ladbrokes? There's been a complete review of our bet acceptance methods and team. We already had Richard Harkness in place forgreyhounds but key product managers for horseracing, football and sports are being appointed. We are also working on technical improvements to help offer the best in-play product portfolio and value. 

How do you feel about the shops? Cash is still king, and it's important to keep the shops in mind as much as competing online. We are seeking in-play offers that differentiate Ladbrokes on the high street, but we also have to be alive to developing markets such as mobile, where we are seeing large, new action.

Favourite racecourse? Yarmouth. My parents live in Caister and fondly recall Sir Henry Cecil's many winners there. My dad Arthur used to stand there and at Yarmouth greyhounds. Newmarket's ambience under thetrees at the July course is an atmospheric delight. Fakenham is fun too. Least favourite? Goodwood - only because I never win there. We performed okay this year, although Hoof It cost us a fortune on Saturday. I hope Mick Easterby puts him away for the year, as he has been on every betting slip in successive Saturdays. Best racing moment? Cheering Lester's final Derby winner, Teenoso in 1983. Dad and me were betting inside the course, somewhere near the winning post, and we won £1,500. I also have great memories of Charlie Lister bringing his canine stars to Yarmouth. More recently in 2008 Stringsofmyheart completed a hat-trick for Gay Kelleway and Darryll Holland, the second leg being on my birthday. The third came when I was in Malagaand listened to a commentary. I'd bought the horse for the owners and it felt fantastic.

Worst moment? A good few years ago Ken Linzell had a champion greyhound sprinter called Upton Rocket. He brought him to Yarmouth, I thought it was money for old rope and I still shudder, because I fearlessly plonked £3,000 down at 4-6. He was just beaten by a dog trained by a friend of my dad, Gordon Bailey's Arbroath Soldier. 

Do you own a horse? I have a half-share in an unraced Dutch Art two-yearold filly Pink Evie, named after my eldest daughter and her favourite colour. I'd love to see her do well at Yarmouth. She's trained by Gay Kelleway, who makes going racing fun. Favourite jockey?Olivier Peslier. I had a large ante-post bet on High-Rise in the 1998 Derby. I was in Australia, listened to the commentary over the phone and then calmly went to bed. I have no idea why but I was convinced he would win.

Favourite horse? Triple dead-heat: Slip Anchor, 1985 Derby, Henry Cecil, Steve Cauthen; Reference Point, 1987 Derby, Henry Cecil, Steve Cauthen - a riding masterclass on each occasion - and Frankel. I was at Newmarket standing with our David Williams when Frankel won the 2,000 Guineas and I've never heard a racing crowd start to applaud a horse two furlongs from home. 

Favourite trainer? Sir Henry. He's a credit to racing. He's not only a brilliant trainer, but a great speaker about his horses, which helps bring the game to life.

Jockey to follow? Phillip Makin is excellent, he's now Kevin Ryan's stable jockey in the north; Kieran O'Neill, Richard Hannon's apprentice, also has real poise and can settle horses 

Anything you'd change in racing? I'd put the Darley July Cup back to the Friday and avoid too much top-class racing at the same time. I'd also like to see higher-grade all-weatherracing. 

What team do you support? Norwich City. We've never looked back since getting Paul Lambert as manager. He reminds me of Martin O'Neill; we will be safe in the Premier League this season.

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