The Horseracing Bettors Forum (HBF) was created in August, 2015, with the assistance of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) to represent the perceived interests of those who bet upon, or who might bet upon, British horseracing.
The HBF seeks to ensure that those interests are understood and taken into account in the relevant decision-making processes, for the good of both bettors and the sport of horseracing in Britain.
The HBF consists of between seven and nine members – all voluntary and unpaid – who convene roughly once every three months to discuss issues that they feel are relevant to British horseracing punters. The HBF has no mandatory powers, but, where appropriate, it will seek to influence policy in accordance with its stated objectives.
The intention is that the Chair will have a tenure of two years and that Forum members will be in place for in the region of three years. Openings will come up for interested and committed members of the public in years to come.
Forum members also communicate extensively between meetings, and provide feedback to bodies within racing and betting – notably the BHA – as far as is possible given their other personal commitments.
At the outset, the public was asked to indicate an interest in being on the Forum under the terms set out. Over 100 such applications were received, from which Forum members were chosen by the Chair and the BHA together.
In addition, HBF has three advisers who do not attend meetings but who may be asked to provide their expert input about matters which will be coming up for discussion.
In choosing the Forum members, an emphasis was placed on representing as many of the diverse interests in betting on horseracing in Britain as was reasonably possible – either in person or through those members’ contacts with the wider public – while ensuring that the HBF collectively already had a good understanding of many of the issues that were likely to come up.
A twitter account (@HBFBritain) and dedicated email address (email@example.com) were established with the purpose of gathering ideas or proposals which might be discussed at Forum meetings, though mindful of the limited resources at the Forum’s disposal.
The HBF would like to thank the BHA not only for its assistance in establishing the Forum in the first place but for regularly providing rooms in which to meet, administrative support for those meetings, and for offering to defray standard travel expenses to members travelling to those meetings.
Not only does the HBF owe its existence to the BHA, it sees a constructive and healthy relationship with the BHA as intrinsic to its future.
The Forum Members (details correct at October 2017)
MATT BISOGNO (Chair), London, is a former software development project manager and consultant who is now managing director of the popular online racing community, geegeez.co.uk. A passionate racehorse owner and syndicate manager, his betting is data-driven and he has contributed to previous BHA focus groups about betting.
COLIN HORD, London, works at the Civil Aviation Authority and has a degree in meteorology. He is the policy lead in the Safety and Airspace Regulation Division. He is a member of Kempton Park Racecourse and writes a blog with his betting selections.
MARTIN HUGHES, near Newcastle, worked at Barclays Bank plc for 19 years in various roles. For the past 8 years he has been a full-time bettor, adopting several approaches and becoming a specialist in in-running (without fast pictures).
PAUL JOHNSON, Leeds, worked for William Hill for over 30 years and is now a professional horseracing bettor. A keen racegoer who has visited all 60 racecourses in the UK, he also advises on horseracing at Regulus Partners.
COLIN MAGEE, London, is an enterprise software executive and entrepreneur, and is a regular racegoer. He authored the first published book on how to program the Betfair API and is also owner of www.betwise.co.uk, a site which provides data analysis tools for bettors who wish to build their own systems.
SIMON ROWLANDS, near Sheffield, is a self-employed horseracing analyst and writer who formerly worked as a betting-shop manager, racing editor for a national newspaper and for many years for Timeform. He was recently appointed to British racing’s Disciplinary Panel.
STEVEN TILLEY, Gloucestershire, has been a racing fan since he was a teenager and a member at Cheltenham racecourse for 30 years. He has written about betting for magazines and spoken at betting workshops, and mixes with punters across the spectrum from those in it purely for fun to those who take it very seriously. He has been a local councillor for the last 25 years.