Who founded Timeform?
Nowadays, Timeform is wholly-owned subsidiary of Flutter Entertainment plc, the parent company of brands including Paddy Power and Betfair, to name but two. However, Timeform was founded in 1948 by professional gambler Phil Bull who, in his heyday, was a familiar figure on British racecourses.
Born in Hemsworth, West Yorkshire in 1910, Bull studied mathematics at Leeds University. Following graduation, in 1931, Bull developed a technique for evaluating horse racing form based on the statistical analysis of race times. In 1938, while still teaching mathematics in London, he began selling information to the general public, by mail order, under the ‘Temple Time Test’ banner. In fact, so successful was the service that Bull abandoned teaching to concentrate on betting for a living.
Following World War II, Bull briefly joined forces with Dick Whitford, who had invented a system by ratings, which went hand-in-hand with Bull’s time figures to create Timeform ratings. Together, they created Portway Press, the publishing company responsible for the first Timeform annual, ‘Racehorses of 1947’, which included an essay and numerical rating for every horse that ran on the Flat during the season. Bull and Whitford parted company in 1949, but Timeform continued, adding National Hunt racing to its repertoire with the publication of the first ‘Chasers & Hurdlers’ annual in 1975/76. Bull remained at the head of affairs until his death in 1989.