Day In The Life Of A Sports Trader: Horse Racing

Recently I managed to catch up with full time racing trader John Cheatham who has been an STL reader almost since inception. I asked him to do an interview which he declined apparently due to shyness however I did persuade him to document one of his trading days for us and below you can see how he got on. Always interesting to read how people tackle a day sports trading…

 The Working Day Begins…

8am and my alarm goes off as usual, only this particular morning I actually beat my alarm and woke up around 7:50 which is always a positive way to start the day. The wife is getting ready around this time which is what usually wakes me up.

I stumble to the kitchen and brew up my first cup of coffee for the day before retiring back to the bedroom and flicking on Sky Sports News. I might trade the horses mainly but I am a football nut also which I like to keep up to date on but only punt on it for fun.

I get about 30 minutes in bed to drink my coffee, flicking back and forth between Sky Sports News and Talksport before its time to drop the wife to work. She could actually take the bus but I need a reason to get out of bed in the mornings or I might stay there till lunchtime.

It takes about 20 minutes to drop the missus off and she gives me her usual line of “make sure you make some money today” and I begin driving home with a quick stop at Sainsbury’s on the way to pick up some supplies and some lovely Pan Au Chocolate pastries too.

Once I arrive home by 9.30am the house is totally quiet and my working day can finally begin, even though racing does not begin till after 1pm.

After making another cup of coffee and heating up my treat I head to “The Den” and fire up my computer to get going. My set up is nothing special, just a standard desk top computer along with a TV with Sky connection. I also have an iPad incase of emergencies but that rarely gets used for trading purposes.

I will now have a look at the racing markets for the day to try and work out what I am trading. Usually I will have already given this a glance the evening before just to make sure I actually have something to trade on.

I have a few particular strategies I employ and they all rely on “the numbers” and reading the markets themselves. I have a couple of strategies I use in-play and some that are pre-race trading. I do not read form or study stables to try and work out angles. At this time of the morning I am just looking to note down prices on particular races that I feel might be worth trading.

I obviously do not want to give too much away about my strategy but I am noting down the prices of particular favourites in particular races with a view to checking them again a bit later to see which direction the prices are moving in.

It is 10am by this point and this is the time when the money is starting to enter the markets in the racing. Once I have noted all the prices I need to note I also write down the races which look like they will suit my in-play strategy also. Organisation is the key here as racing can sometimes get very hectic in the afternoons.

All this does not take very long at all and I then do a few house chores before checking the prices again at 11am.

I make note of the prices at 11am compared to the 10am prices and then I head off down my local gym for a quick run and cross-trainer. My aim is to be back by 12 noon so I can get some money in the markets for my pre-race trades and get myself into gear for the in-play session.

I wont bore you with the ins and outs of my gym session but it was very therapeutic and I arrive back at my house at 12 feeling energized and ready for the afternoon ahead.

As soon as I get in and before I even have a shower I check the prices once again and I have now spotted an opportunity on two horses that I think are going to be steaming. I put my money in the market for those and, as I do, I also make a post it note and stick it to the side of my desk with the names of the horses. This helps to stop me forgetting about the trade I have on. I also then put alarms in my phone for 20 minutes before each race just in case the worst happens and I totally forget. It used to happen to me A LOT so these days I try not to take any chances. They say your memory goes as you grow older and I definitely agree!

With all in place, I hop in the shower and hit my desk at 1pm with racing due to start at 1.35. Not before brewing cup of coffee number 3 that is!

I check on both my current pre-race trades and one has moved into profit by 10 ticks but the other is still around the same price. My instinct is actually telling me that the second horse is going to drift so with the other trade in profit I close both my positions and take the profit available. This is mainly so I can now concentrate on the in-play races as I need a clear mind for this.

 The Trading Is Underway

I have about 6 in-play races that I have marked out as tradeable for the day and all from one course which is Sedgefield. Having all the races on one course makes it easier as I have a nice gap in between races.

The first race is the 2.20 @ Sedgefield. Apologies for not disclosing my strategy in too much detail but I usually take a position on a horse at the start of the race and aim to close out for a profit or loss within the first 2 minutes of it being in-play. Nothing too fancy here but it works!

The first race ends in a tiny loss or what I like to call a scratch trade. I was actually quite lucky to get out with no loss on this one as the favourite fell just after I exited the trade and this would have caused a huge swing against me!

The 2.50 @ Sedgefield goes smoothly and I pick up a profit of 30% within the first minute of the race. If every race was like this then I expect my blood pressure would be in much better condition as I keep telling my doctor!

The 3.20 @ Sedgefield does not go quite so well as I have to red up for a 40% loss. I blame myself for this one as the trade was marginal and I guess if I was not doing this write up I would have just missed trading this one. I guess my eagerness to impress has cost me!

The next race that qualifies is at 4.20 so I head to the kitchen and make a ham and cheese toastie, mmmmm!

The 4.20 @ Sedgefield race goes reasonably well. I take a 14% profit which could actually could have been more if I had held out a bit longer but the earlier loss was playing on my mind. Amazing, how my whole mindset towards trading can be affected when I am in “the spotlight” like this. Just shows how much of this game is played in your head I guess!

The 4.50 @ Sedgefield goes precisely to plan and I pick up a nice 30% profit and with one race left I am now looking at a profit for the day unless there is a complete disaster.

The 5.20 @ Sedgefield ends up in a scratch trade and my total for the day is a +32% on my stake. I can not reveal actual money figures for my own privacy. I am pleased with any day that makes a profit and a 32% day is a decent days work. I actually do not usually look at the total for the day and I am only doing so for the sake of this write up. Usually, I just trade and only take a peak at the p&l near the end of the month.

Looking back on this day it is quite amazing how my usual trading game felt different once I knew I had to write up how each trade went. I felt a small pressure to try and impress and trade more then I usually would. The 3.20 race was one I definitely would not have traded on a usual day but I guess if I took a profit on it then I would not be complaining.

So I hope the readers enjoy this. I appreciate it might not sound as exciting or amazing as most people picture in their heads but that really is a pretty much average day for me.

Now, time to boil that kettle again….


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  1. Nice insight into your day, John. Many thanks!

  2. excellent review ,,,,love if he revealled the strategies haha but i wouldnt either if i was in his position ,,,,this would be an ideal lifestyle for me ,but i worry how a losing streak would affect me with larger numbers involved hence me still working full time and trading less ,,,anyway
    thank you for the insight
    good luck

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