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Monday, June 14, 2004


Betfair, Betdaq and Sporting Options, the leading three betting exchanges, today welcomed the government's categorical acceptance that backing and laying were complementary forms of betting which should not be differentiated.

The key statement in today's response to the Joint Scrutiny Committee report brought home the fact that when they bet in a properly regulated environment, betting exchange customers represent no more of a threat to the rest of the betting public or the integrity of sport than customers of traditional bookmakers.

The government has therefore underlined the folly of singling out sections of the betting public for individual licenses, and endorsed the view that betting exchange customers should not in any way be treated differently from customers of the traditional betting shop.

The government has also stated that it will enshrine in legislation all the safeguards which the leading exchanges already offer as part of their business model, which represents strong endorsement of current best business practice. All betting exchange customers are already registered with the exchanges. Equally, all three of the leading exchanges provide information to governments and administrative bodies, and doing so to the Gambling Commission is a welcome extension of that.

The exchanges have previously warned against creating bureaucracy for one set of operators and its customers without bringing commensurate advantages, and today's announcement supports that position. The government must now clarify that the Gambling Commission will in its turn ensure that its definition of what constitutes 'business' relates to all punters, given the government's acceptance that there is no difference between backing and laying. The reporting requirements for large staking or winning customers can only be effective in achieving the aims of regulation if they are applied across the gambling spectrum.

Today's statement does much to safeguard the fiscal and regulatory benefits which currently exist for government, and guarantee racing continued access to the unprecedented level of information which it currently receives. It effectively removes the risk of arbitrary discrimination against certain "high-rolling" bettors, which would encourage them to find alternative operators in unregulated environments, and end the model in the United Kingdom. Clarity as regards the Gambling Commission will further strengthen this, and the exchanges look forward to working alongside the ABB and others to ensure the area is effectively managed across the board.

DCMS understands that the regulatory aims of government are best achieved through the strict regulation of the operator rather than the customer, and through maximum transparency. The exchanges fully support both. They will continue to work closely with all the key stakeholders as the Gambling Bill moves towards its formal introduction in the House of Commons, to ensure that the three pillars of gambling regulation are firmly set in place without the introduction either of unnecessary bureaucracy, or of policies which are discriminatory to their customers.


Whilst the Newmarket Racecourses staff are as sick as all England football fans today about last night's last gasp defeat to France, there is a silver lining for the racecourse management. The prospects of England playing in the Euro 2004 Quarter Final for the Group B winners, which will clash with the evening racing and the Blondie concert that will follow on Friday week (25 June), now seem remote. If England are able to progress to the knock-out phase, they will almost certainly play the previous evening as Group B runners-up.

"We'll have several TV screens dedicated to showing Euro 2004 coverage at all our race meetings over the next 4 weeks for those who want to follow the action, but Friday week was the one occasion when England could have been playing," commented Lisa Hancock, Managing Director of Newmarket Racecourses.

"We were looking to make special arrangements for such an eventuality, but though I was as devastated as anyone last night it looks to have saved us from a major headache!"

Tickets are still available for all 7 Vibe FM Newmarket Nights, though advance booking is strongly recommended. Adult tickets range from £8 to £27 and child tickets from £3 to £9. Discounts apply to telephone advance bookings made 28 days or more in advance and to online bookings made 2 days or more in advance. Call 08707 200 201 or visit www.newmarketracecourses.co.uk

The full line-up for the 2004 Vibe FM Newmarket Nights

Friday 18th June Sugababes
Friday 25th June Blondie
Friday 16th July Alistair, Carolynne, Paris and Peter from Fame Academy 2003
Friday 23rd July Mamma Mia - The Concert (a tribute to Abba and the Bee Gees)
Friday 30th July Blue
Friday 6th August Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra
Friday 13th August A double-bill of Darius and Girls Aloud


The special stage, which for the fist time will be used for the whole Vibe FM Newmarket Nights season, is currently being erected on the July Course ahead of the first Night this Friday, which features six races starting at 6.30pm followed by Britain's top girl band, the Sugababes, in concert.


The ‘Swinging 60's' returns to Redcar on Saturday (June 19) – the secondleg of the two-day meeting at Yorkshire's ‘seaside racecourse' – as the course celebrates the 40th anniversary of the main Grandstand. The 60's themed raceday includes a quality seven-race programme which begins at 1.45 p.m., along with a ‘Best Dressed Elvis' competition (the prize for which is a named race, private box and lunch for eight people at a race meeting later in the season), ‘Elvis' playing his medley of hits after racing on a stage in the Course Enclosure and a special souvenir racecard incorporating a limited edition 1964 replica badge/keyring. A Cadillac will also be on display and there's also musical entertainment.

The totesport Big Screen will show all of the action, along with the big races from Royal Ascot, while attractions for young racegoers in the Course Enclosure include Punch & Judy Shows, a magician, bouncy castle and the course's permanent playground.

Redcar's Grandstand was opened by Lord Zetland on April 24, 1964 and it is hoped that some jockeys and trainers who rode and trained around that time will be present to join in the celebrations and to cut a special cake after The Redcar Grandstand ‘Ruby Anniversary' Handicap Stakes – a contest for stayers over one mile and threequarters. 40 helium-filled balloons will be released during the afternoon, each containing a message; whoever returns the message from the destination furthest to the racecourse will receive a membership at Redcar for the 2005 season.

A pair of £20,000 races are featured on Saturday – The totepool Handicap Stakes (one mile and a quarter) and The Tetley's Smooth Handicap Stakes (a contest for sprinters over six furlongs).

Tees Components Ltd. of North Skelton sponsor for the ninth year at Redcar, when the company supports Saturday's opening race, The Tees Components Maiden Stakes over six furlongs. Redcar's caterers, Romfords of Haydon Bridge return to support a Classified Stakes race over the straight seven furlongs, while Saturday's highlights are completed with The BBC Radio Cleveland Handicap Stakes – a contest for three-year-olds over nine furlongs.

The action on Friday (June 18) is scheduled to start at 2.10 p.m., with the feature races being The Gribdale Handicap Stakes (a race for three-year-old sprinters over six furlongs) and The Go Racing In Yorkshire Handicap Stakes over the straight mile.


Pontefract hosts the 15th annual Northern Racing College Charity Meeting on Sunday (June 20) – the first of the course's three Sunday fixtures this summer.

The fully-sponsored seven-race programme, which begins at 2-20 p.m., continues to be unique in British racing, as seven of the U.K's leading bookmakers each support a race, combining to encourage the grass-roots and future of the sport, along with aiding the fund-raising efforts of the Northern Racing College, which is administered by The South Yorkshire Training Trust – a registered charity.

The William Hill Rated Stakes (a £20,000 handicap contest over one mile) is the principal race on a quality card which also includes The stanleybet.com Classified Stakes (one mile and a quarter), The toteexacta Pontefract Cup (a handicap race for stayers over two and a quarter miles – the fourth of the eight races which comprise this season's inaugural Pontefract Stayers' Championship), The Sky Bet Fillies' Handicap Stakes (one mile), The Ladbrokes Maiden Stakes (for three-year-olds – one mile and a half), The Bet Direct Handicap Stakes (three-year-olds – six furlongs), while the opening race is a contest for two-year-old fillies, The EBF betfred.com Maiden Fillies' Stakes – supported for the first time by Done Bookmakers, in conjunction with The European Breeders Fund.

The Northern Racing College, established in 1984, operates under the auspices of the British Horseracing Education & Standards Trust. Based at Rossington Hall near Doncaster, the College provides full on-site training courses for young people planning to work in racing stables, some of which go on to become jockeys.

The gates will open at 11-30 a.m. on Sunday, and there's a host of attractions for young racegoers, with the emphasis very much on producing exciting, competitive racing on the track, along with an entertaining and informative day out for the family.

The totesport Big Screen situated opposite the main stands will assist racegoers to follow all of the action during the afternoon, while musical entertainment is provided by The Coventry Corps of Drums Marching Band and The Tom Roberts Jazz Band.

There are three performances during the afternoon by The National Festival in the Third Enclosure, which is also the venue for a Fun Fair, bouncy castles, go-karts, while Taro The Jester will visit all enclosures. There's also a supervised crèche facility (with face painting) along with free sweets – while stocks last!

As usual, accompanied children under 16 years of age are admitted free of charge into all enclosures.


Beverley's fourth June Meeting on Tuesday (June 22), scheduled to begin at 2-15 p.m., features The Tote Bookmakers Handicap Stakes, a £10,000-added contest over one mile and a quarter.

The St. John Ambulance Maiden Stakes, a race for three-year-olds over the extended mile, draws attention to the vital work performed on a voluntary basis on most of the U.K's racecourses by the St. John Ambulance Brigade. Opera Glass, successful in this race last year, completed a winning double on the day for trainer Andrew Balding and jockey Kevin Darley. Trainer Richard Fahey also recorded a couple of winners at this meeting last year.

Racegoers will be able to receive free advice on computing, the internet and the region from the staff on the BBC Bus which will be in the Course Enclosure, while the totesport Big Screen, located in the same enclosure will show all of the racing action.


The annual 'Ladies Day' at Thirsk takes place on Thursday (June 24), when the first 300 ladies coming into the Club Enclosure will receive a fresh orchid button-hole and a perfumery gift, while baskets of flowers and champagne will be presented to the three best-dressed ladies chosen
during the afternoon.

Racing begins at 2.30 p.m. and the meeting is featured on The Jerry Scott Radio Show on BBC Radio York, with Jerry being at the course to set the scene and interview the personalities. BBC Radio York Breakfast Show presenters for Harrogate, Hambleton and The Dales - Sandie Dunleavy and Colin Hazelden - also have races named after them.

The Jack Calvert Handicap Stakes, a contest for sprinters over five furlongs, is once again staged at Thirsk in memory of a former local trainer, who enjoyed considerable success from his base at nearby Hambleton, recording over 500 winners. He passed away in 1998. The best horse he trained was probably the sprinter Dondeen, the winner of several races in 1966, while in 1977, Move Off won the Tote-Ebor Handicap at York, the Zetland Gold Cup at Redcar and the Ayrshire Handicap at Ayr.

Musical entertainment is provided by The Mike Booth Band.

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