Dettori's seven-up takes fizz out of Stanley

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The Independent Online
Britain's smaller bookmakers were yesterday counting the stock market cost of jockey Frankie Dettori's record seven wins at Ascot on Saturday. The 25,095-1 feat forced Stanley Leisure to issue a profits warning while shares in bookie minnow Surrey Group lost a quarter of their value to close at 0.75p.

Stanley Leisure said the Dettori wins would cost the group around pounds 2.25m in its first-half results to 28 October. Two of its punters had won more than pounds 200,000 and another won pounds 100,000 while 27 others placed bets yielding five-figure returns. Stanley's shares fell 7p to 235p.

The company said that apart from "this unprecedented situation", trading to date in the racing division was satisfactory with turnover and margins improved on the same period last year. Stanley Leisure has more than 500 outlets after acquiring the Gus Carter chain in May.

Surrey Group, which is trying to diversify away from betting, said Saturday's events would cost it pounds 100,000, with two customers netting pounds 24,000 each. "Hopefully we'll never see anything like that again," said Surrey Group's company secretary, Paddy Bolger. "We just couldn't hedge our bets. No one would take them."

He said the company was introducing fruit machines to its betting offices and developing a golf course which will open in June.

He was speaking as Surrey Group announced widening losses of pounds 4.66m in the year to March. This compared to a pounds 17,000 deficit last year. The operating losses were pounds 1.3m, added to pounds 3m of property losses and write-downs.

Surrey Group blamed the National Lottery, poor weather and freak results for one of its worst years in betting. However, it said trading since the end of March had shown some recovery with tight cost control leading to better margins.

John McNair, chairman, said initial results from introducing amusement machines to betting shops had exceeded expectations.