Pricewise: "I Love Horse Racing, Betting is Secondary to Me"
The number one tipster in the country, Pricewise aka Tom Segal talks to the Sports Gazette about his passion for the Sport of Kings, his path into the industry and the resources he uses to gain an edge over the bookmakers.
For Segal, the affection for the sport began early on. Born in the small town of Esher in Surrey, his family lived right next door to Sandown Park, he could hear the race commentary from his bedroom on racedays.
"I knew what I wanted to do pretty early on. I ended up first of all getting a job with Wetherby's for Raceform and then applied for a job with data processing at the Post which I got and did for about five or six years."
Segal moved onto Spotlight and after discussions with Alan Byrne, the Chief Executive and Editor-in-Chief of the company, he was given the job as Pricewise and is now 15 years into the role.
"My biggest break and success is getting to work with the RacingPost lads really. I've done it for 20 years and lets be honest a lot of people spend their lives working in jobs they hate and I've been incredibly lucky."
Is there a secret formula to Segal's success?
Emphatically no is the answer. In fact, the top tipster believes its rather his lack of a process or coherent strategy that has served him so well.
"When I first started that was my advantage, because I am a bit of a loose canon and have no set system, for example I wouldn't have the top speed figure horse or the draw would not necessarily be that big in my calculations."
Segal's advice to those thousands around the land who enjoy the feeling of betting and picking out a winner, is to be true to yourself and follow your instinct.
So far this year, Pricewise has been firing on all cylinders and showed profit on the first four months with a +£198.75 profit margin in April. This followed on from a poorer year in 2015.
"Last year was pretty crap and was the first bad year I've had doing it and backed a lot of seconds and thirds."
Segal himself firmly believes flat racing in particular is becoming more puzzling and challenging to successfully predict.
"My personal opinion is that flat racing has become incredibly difficult. It's not quite like it was, I don't think there are many good horses around."
"When I do these big handicaps, there's only a five to six pound weight range. Essentially therefore your looking at horses that are all about the same and the horse that wins is decided more on conditions and what happens during the race."
In terms resources and tools that Segal turns to, high up on the list are video form and jockeys. While there are a lot of talented jockeys dotted around the country, Segal believes the rider has a bigger influence than most people may give regard to.
"I'm a big jockey fan, I think this may be the biggest edge you have got, I think its overlooked a bit."
"The tightness of the handicap is that nowadays a jockey can make so much difference than I think he did 10 years ago."
The tipster is fond of up and coming conditionals and apprentices like Adam McNamara, a seven pound claimer out of the Richard Fahey yard, although suggests most are across the Irish Sea.
"There is so little between the horses but quite a big disparity and difference between the good jockey's and the bad jockeys. I do not think that's factored into the price enough."
A racing purist at heart, Segal tends to avoid the industry stuff and the politics of the racing but he does have some concerns with the future of the quality of the thoroughbred.
"I do hope we do not lose all the owner breeders, as we've lost a good deal of them, old fashioned owner breeders and I know people will say its the modern world, you look at So Mi Dar an owner breeder horse, they used to dominate racing and still do but I'm slightly worried that the standard of the British horse is at it's lowest ever ebb."
"A horse like Galileo Gold would of probably come fourth in a Guineas 10 years ago."
"I just think we're getting into the realms where its pretty low quality stuff. People will give up going. It costs about £40 to get in and the quality is not very good."