Peter Woodfine – Total Performance Data – In-play betting is ‘vital for racing’s future’

Using innovative global navigation satellite systems Total Performance Data (TPD) aims to expand in-play horse racing betting into the mainstream, whilst opening up betting operators to a vast number of new horse racing betting opportunities.

TPD attaches trackers to the saddlecloths of horses and allows operators access to data which was previously not available. The data ranges from sectional times to stride length, and even some breakthrough readouts tracking a horse’s heart rate.

TPD’s Commercial Director Peter Woodfine described to SBC the importance of in-play horse racing betting and what he thinks it’ll take to elevate it into the mainstream.

SBC: How close is in play Horse Racing betting to becoming a mainstream market for UK betting operators?

Peter Woodfine: In-Play race betting as a concept has been popularized through Betfair’s exchange. The real-time cash-flow fluctuations allow for the exchange betting model to easily set live pricing – this is obviously not the case for fixed odds operators and as a result they have had to concede this lucrative sector of the market.

Recently (and significantly) however, bet365 have started to offer an in-running product which is manually traded.

Market sources suggest that in-running racing product could account for circa 10% – 30% of total race wagering – the key to mass adoption however is automation. This has of course been seen in other sports through the rise of companies such as Sportradar, SBTech and Betgenius in offering data driven automated pricing. Up until now, this has not been possible with racing.

TPD have partnered with a start-up company which involves former Finsoft and Openbet employees called, In Play Racing Limited. Through their sophisticated algorithms, In Play Racing are able to provide an automated pricing service which is powered by TPD’s real-time GPS tracking data. The first operator to be serviced via this joint venture is due to launch in Q1 of 2018.

Alternatively, operators can purchase TPD data direct from source to process through their own trading systems – again, advanced discussions on this front will lead to some key product launches in Q1 2018 from the major operators.

SBC: How important is the growth of in place Horse Racing betting to helping racing evolve as a betting product?

PW: Given the global betting landscape and shift towards in-running across all sports (circa 80% of all betting) the development of a comparable racing product is absolutely vital for racing’s future.

Furthermore, the gamification aspect of an in-running racing product will not only increase the popularity to the next generation of sports bettors, but also open up interest from new global markets traditionally associated with other sports. The rise of alternative betting product such as esports and Drone Racing would support this concept.

SBC: What methods need to be taken to grow in play Horse Racing to the next level of betting market?

PW: Automation is key as is the availability of global content. As we have seen with the likes of Running Ball, what started off as a niche football betting product to stimulate interest in major matches from Europe’s tier 1 football leagues, became a global phenomenon where betting customers now look to wager on football across the world at any time of day – whether it be Barca v Real in La Liga or a UAE under 19’s fixture – content is king.

Racing will need to follow the same path to build a truly world class in-running betting product: UK racing will always be seen as the pinnacle, but then we will need to see product from USA, Australia, SA, South America, France, DE, Trotting etc etc. There are over 300,000 racing fixtures globally per year (Running Ball currently offer 120,000 football fixtures by comparison).

SBC: With the extensive data that is being provided what variety of markets could become available on in play Horse Racing?

PW: Derivative markets are a very exciting area for the product. Relatively simple markets such as fastest furlong, max speed will significantly add to the entertainment factor. Incidentally, TPD launched a pilot of such markets with Sky Bet for the Windsor Sprint Series.

Further down the line, advances in the data capture technology can lead to a variety of special markets: TPD are about to launch stride length as a latest development for example.

SBC: Given the expansive amount of important data you’re providing, how do ensure that it is accurate as possible?  

PW: We constantly monitor our data through our content team in London to benchmark for accuracy. By using a GPS based system, we benefit from the advances in technology in this area and therefore have a system which can constantly evolve.

Our system to date has been designed as a compromise between cost and accuracy so that it can be rolled-out across any race track in the world: for in-running to truly take off, tracking data needs to be available from all race tracks, not just the elite few. Despite the low cost, our system has comparable accuracy with incumbent systems and is being used successfully to compile live betting odds. As the cost of advanced GPS reduces, the TPD system will be able to reap the benefits.

Aside from accuracy, latency is also crucial from a live betting perspective: TPD’s data travels from the horse to the operator in less than 50ms from live.

Total Performance Data has also been shortlisted for the Best Live Betting Product and Best Sports Data Product awards at this year’s SBC awards. To find out more about the event, click here.