Racing: Bookies respond to critics

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The Independent Online
THE JOCKEY CLUB's attack on bookmakers for sucking too much money out of racing brought a predictably fierce response yesterday, with Ladbrokes, as usual, leading the counter-offensive. Their spokesman, Rob Hartnett, said Lord Hartington's remarks on Tuesday night, 'took us back to the old days of bookmakers being the evil people in the dark cloaks', writes Paul Hayward.

Hartington, the Jockey Club senior steward, had warned in a speech, 'until we see real co-operation from the bookmakers, (our) unrequited love song will be heard no more', but yesterday BOLA, the betting offices' trade association, described his remarks as 'bordering on the ungrateful', adding: 'Betting offices are expensive to operate and in current trading conditions many are struggling to meet their existing overheads, without facing further demands from racing.'

With Hartington describing previous talks as 'an exercise in futility,' and bookmakers reciting statistics about the recession, the fledgling British Horseracing Board will be faced with new extremes of rancour when it attempts to address the industry's structural problems.

Bookmakers were not the only group at the Jockey Club's throat yesterday. The National Trainers Federation has advised its members not to pay increases of up to 75 per cent in their licence fee until the reasons for the changes have been explained.

Dermot Browne, the former champion amateur jockey, will today mount a more serious challenge over licensing when his appeal against a 10-year disqualification is heard in London. He was warned off after being found guilty of six offences, including selling information to a bookmaker.