For those in the know, it’s Gold Cup week and the internet is a-flurry with coverage of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival meet where the cream of the horse racing world gather for top-class Group 1 racing.
For those who didn’t know – and why would you? – I’ve been publishing horse racing information and ratings online since 2004. I won the Newcastle University TEDCO Enterprise Challenge in 2006 for the sports betting exchange website I created, before I sold that business and went off around the world for a while.
However, my relationship with horse racing goes much deeper than that. I hail from a tiny hamlet in the hills of the Yorkshire Dales just a few hundred (mostly uphill) yards from Middleham’s famous High and Low Moor gallops where the country’s top trainers put high quality thoroughbreds through their paces.
For anyone who wants to experience this amazing hilltop training facility, there are annual Open Stables on Good Friday – go here to find out more.
From driving jockeys and leading up at Point-to-Point meets, to rubbing shoulders with trainers in the local pub, horse racing has been part of my life and it still thrills me to hear the Cheltenham roar every Spring.
From a technical perspective, the sheer amount of data available on breeding and form within horse racing is a web developer’s dream. See what I’ve done here with glossaries as I test out data formats within WordPress – insiders: custom taxonomies, custom post types and some carefully crafted internal taxonomy foo was necessary (and it’s still very much experimental) in order to represent all this data in a useful format.
What’s nice about racing is every horse is named uniquely, globally (with the addition of “(IRE)” or “(GB)” for localisation) – if only the same were true of all things, our lives as developers could be far easier to de-duplicate.
Owing to the massive amounts of bets placed on horse racing, competition for horse racing coverage on the internet is high. One way to get ahead in this respect is to match the speed and the quality of the horse racing with a fast, high quality website. That’s why my current horse racing side project, Little Blue Pen, uses AMP and contains 100% original content.
I’m also working on an Open Source project to change the way Google displays horse racing information (known as Schema or Structured Data) – get in touch or connect on LinkedIn to find out more, if you’re interested.
Oh, and if you want tips for Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle, click here 🙂