Racing: Tote cuts its minimum dividend to pounds 1.05

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THE MINIMUM win dividend on the Tote has has been cut from pounds 1.10 to pounds 1.05 for a pounds 1 stake. The change comes into effect on any horse where the true dividend - after deduction and payment to racecourses - would be equal to or less than 90 pence.

The move has been caused by recent large-scale on-course betting on favourites returning a starting price of less than 1-10, such prices making the Tote's previous minimum dividend a generous alternative. The most recent of these occasions came at Beverley last month when Victory Spin won at 1-66, the shortest SP since on-course betting tax was scrapped, when the Tote reported a win pool 20 times greater than the next biggest at the track that day.

Rob Hartnett, the Tote public relations director , said last night: "We have always maintained that if a punter backs a winner they should win something. In the past we thought 1-10 was a fair return but that no longer appears to be the case. The new dividend will come into effect on maybe half a dozen races a year."

A new record price for a racecourse bookmaking pitch was set at auction at Beverley last night when the West Country layer Andy Smith paid pounds 190,000 for pitch number nine at York. The previous record was pounds 105,000. The pitch was offered up by Maurice Lindsay, who retires this year as the Rugby Super League's managing director. He had bought the position for pounds 70,000 and therefore makes a profit of pounds 120,000.