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Job In Focus- Terry Pattinson

25 June 2015

How long with Hills? 
Six years, five as trading director. I initially joined as head of in-play. You moved from Australia? Yes, my family [wife and two children] and myself we're seeking a change of lifestyle, and I've loved it here. I think it’s the best job in the world, working for one of the biggest book makers, and at a relatively young age enjoying an enormous challenge and corporate responsibility.

What were you doing before?
I never went to university, but had a maths/stats brain and was also a better. My initial interest was fuelled by my dad taking me racing in Canberra, then I had an opportunity to work in bookmaking in Darwinin 1996. I've stayed in the industry ever since. 

What is the impact of Pricewise? 
Tom Segal has runs of winners and losers and always makes a Saturday morning interesting. If we didn't restrict his tips on a Saturday morning we would have liabilities well into seven figures before 10 am. Hence we restrict stakes, hold on for as long as we can and move the price. I've spent hours analysing his results to determine whether we can do things better. I doubt there is a free tipster in the world with his success or following. The William Hill Greyhound Derby final is this weekend. Yes, it’s one of our main sponsorships of the year, it works well for us and we take the greyhound market seriously, employing three top odds-makers: Derek Hope, Scott Murray and Luke Bag well. It’s always a great night.

Who wins the final? 
We have a terrible-looking book with the odds-on favourite Farloe Blitz losing us £200k [biggest bet £300 each-way at 66-1]. I can’t see him being beaten, with no other early-paced dogs left to challenge him. Our form guys have a more optimistic view and are hoping a clear run from Eden The Kid can see him turn the tables from the semis. 

What can racing do better?
From a trading point of view we get better engagement[turnover] from our customers the bigger the field size. If it were my personal business I’d pay more for 16-runner handicaps, but I’d expect are bate on four- and five-runner races that are impossible to win at.

What do you think of the SP debate? 
It’s something we’re thinking through. The main issue seems to revolve around one race with 40 runners, the Grand National. One to one-and-a-quarter per cent per runner is not unreasonable fora 40-runner race, our own board at A in tree bet to 149, but there was a blip with a 165 return. That said, the industry SP does work for foreign racing. We have an internal group formed to look at all alternatives if need be. 

How do you see betting exchanges? 
They have probably taken a lot of the old-fashioned compiling skill set out of the industry which is sad. Even if I wanted to lay one above the machine I find it difficult now as we are swamped by all the bots, which leaves little room left for my loyal customer base who may also wish to take advantage of the price. But of course exchanges have their place in this game. 

How do we make the odds and racing appeal more to younger people?
In Australia, the change to decimal from fractional, and the change town and place from each-way, has worked well. I appreciates a different market place here in the UK but younger people and newer entrants to our sport seem to understand decimal better and I don’t think the trial was given a chance to succeed. Bookmakers waste a lot of time by being defensive around place over-rounds in the bad each-way races, of which there are plenty everyday, but a separate win and place market could work in both the punters’ and bookies’ favour.
Over half of those who bet on the main race on a Saturday also bet on football. All bookmakers are conscious of this and work hard on cross-selling opportunities between products. The Premier League is an unusual betting market as only four teams can usually win it. It’s also possible for a team, most probably Chelsea next season, to be odds-on before Christmas . . .perhaps before October! That kills a lot of ante-post activity.The day-to-day betting on football accas, however, is never lost on our customers. 

How does the online market split up? 
Mobile is now much bigger than desktop – 50-50 last year, 60-40 now and growing all the time. It’s better business too as it attracts a more casual bett or. Key is delivering a great user experience around world-class technology and customer service. Our teams in Gibraltar are fantastic in these areas. 
What about the shops? 
Everyone is working hard to remain competitive and there’s been some great ideas in making the in-shop experience more enjoyable. Having 2,350 UK shops offers real brand awareness, which others need to spend heavily to try and match. The UK remains our key market, but Italy and Spain online are exciting. We avoid illegal markets.And the Racing Post App?This delivers on every level,keeping it simple and relevant. 

And your worst moment? 
In the 2011 Champions League final I thought the UK market would back Manchester United and we ended up guaranteeing best price both Barcelona and Man U, so I was praying for the draw – the jackpot. Punters only backed Barcelona, who won 3-1. I couldn't have got it much more wrong and I was too bold. 

And Ryan Moore and Frankie Dettori gave you another Royal Ascot headache last week? 
We were wiped out on the first three days, averaging a £1m payout every time Ryan Moore rode a winner, which was often. Friday we fared better and thankfully Saturday got us out of jail.

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