Maternity leave

It was a big day for me yesterday, with Betfair finally launching the SP mechanism.  I kicked the product off over 2 years ago, but it was a year and a half before we started work on it (the Betfair roadmap is permanently backed up).  It is a very big piece of work – in many respects the biggest single add-on to the exchange since it was launched over seven years ago – and it needed planning to a high level of detail.  Step forward then Steve High, mastermind of the accumulators product and a man who is extremely capable when it comes to dealing with tough mathematical or logical challenges.

I told Steve that I’ll be taking all the credit if it all goes well but I’m publicly blaming him if it doesn’t, which seems like a good plan.  In reality Steve is responsible for virtually all of the logical design with me doing little more than plant the first seeds.  There is a long list of honourable mentions – too long to go into, but suffice to say there were several people who really went the extra mile and it was one of those projects that had real commitment and momentum behind it. 

It launched quietly yesterday and I would expect it to creep along for a while, gradually picking up turnover as it goes.  We need to make some performance tweaks and at some point we need to strip the page down a bit as it’s pretty cluttered right now.  I believe that in time it has the scope to become an important product, and it could serve as the foundation stone for a variety of advances further down the line.

For me it may be the final significant contribution I make to Betfair’s product.  In a week’s time I take a nine month sabbatical (staying on the BF board as a non-exec) and how I will serve the company after this break isn’t clear.  It’s taken a long time to build, but right now I believe Betfair has a truly outstanding product team which has rapidly become one of the finest assets in the company.  They don’t need me any more, and it’s great to be saying that.  My main concern in my sabbatical is that I’m going to pine for the office – it’s become so much of my life and it’s a genuinely friendly and fun place to be.

Anyway enough of the soppy stuff.  The 2:20 at Taunton today is an excellent little race and comfortably the day’s highlight for me.  Acambo looks the obvious favourite after a great debut, closely followed by Pepperoni Pete from the all conquering Nicholls stable.  Dusky Warbler is half owned by Rodger Sargent, my partner in Mon Michel and King’s Head – he had some serious flat form (rated 107) and despite not setting the world alight with his two chase runs to date I think he’s a genuine contender.  Russian Around is the only horse to have bested Noland over hurdles – that was over two years ago and was his only run.  He’s had his problems but there was a time that Nick thought the world of him – he’s a big athletic horse and should be a natural chaser.  In what may be one to watch rather than bet on I’ll side with Russian Around at a nice fat price.  In the 1:10 at Ludlow I’ll be watching (and possibly backing) Enlightenment who has always looked a chaser in the making and should be progressing.

I may have both my Nicky Vaughan horses running on the all-weather tomorrow.  Shepherd’s Warning runs in the claimer at 7:00, and she should certainly go ok.  Lilac Moon (8:55) is drawn 13 (of 13) for the fourth consecutive time!  She’s been very consistent and again should go well – she deserves a win.  Mon Michel has gone up another couple of pounds to 124, and should have a good chance of getting into the Ladbroke on the 22nd.

I’m off to Ireland tonight and I’ll be going down to Coolmore tomorrow to see a few horses and have a general look around.  Should be fun.