Racing: Wyatt credited with Tote advance

Tributes were paid yesterday to Lord Wyatt of Weeford, the former chairman of the Horserace Totalisator Board who has died aged 79. The former Labour MP died in hospital on Sunday after suffering a burst artery in his stomach.

The flamboyant Lord Wyatt was chairman of the Tote in 1976 until July 31 this year when he was succeeded by Peter Jones.

The peer is credited with the introduction of Tote Direct, a computerised system through which major off-course bookmakers accept bets that are then placed in the Tote's pools on a commission basis.

Tristram Ricketts, chief executive of the British Horseracing Board, said yesterday: "Woodrow's passing is particularly sad for me as he was first associated with my family half a century ago, when he was personal assistant to my grandfather, Sir Stafford Cripps, on the Cabinet Mission to India."

Ricketts added: "His 21 years at the helm of the Tote will long be remembered as the period in which this key organisation embraced new technology, customer service, expansion of outlets on and off course and, crucially, Tote Direct.''

John Heaton, the Tote's chief executive also paid his respects: "Lord Wyatt transformed the Tote during his leadership making it one of the most technically advanced betting organisations in the world.''

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