Racing: Wakeham focuses on Budget cut in duty

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The implications for racing of today's Budget was at the forefront of Lord Wakeham's mind when he addressed the front-line troops in the war for punters' money at the Betting Shop Manager of the Year Final yesterday, writes John Cobb.

The British Horseracing Board's chairman described the Budget as "one of the most significant for racing in recent years", as the sport hopes for a cut in betting duty that would result in deductions from punters' bets being reduced to 7.5%. That would be the lowest level for more than 20 years.

"In Westminster and Whitehall they want us to work together, and work together we will. The Home Secretary and I hope that my new Horseracing Advisory Group will further assist this process," he said.

"Betting-shop staff make a vital contribution to the racing and betting industries. Punters need to be looked after in an increasingly competitive leisure market."

Judged to have looked after punters best of all by the panel that makes the award was Ellen Killen, who runs a Ladbroke shop entirely staffed by women opposite Glasgow Central station.

Michael O'Hehir, the Irish broadcaster and racing commentator, has died aged 76.