SELKIRK bookie Andy Bennett is in line for the prestigious title of Racing Post/SIS Betting Shop Manager of the Year, writes Andrew Keddie.
Out of thousands of contenders across Britain and Ireland, the popular 33 year-old, who runs the Scotbet outlet at the former post office in Market Place, has this week been named one of just three managers from Scotland – one of the eight regions in the competition – still in the running.
As a reward for making it to the final 24, Andy will be treated to lunch at Doncaster races on Racing Post Trophy weekend on Friday, October 21. There, he and his rivals will meet for the first time the panel of judges, which includes Channel 4 Racing’s Tanya Stevenson.
The panel will then meet again to decide the eight regional champions who will be announced on November 4, and crowned, alongside the overall winner, at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel in London on November 21,
At that gala occasion, the guests of honour will be BBC racing pundits John Parrott and Gary Wiltshire. The overall winner will also receive a VIP trip to next year’s Dubai World Cup.
Andy, who lives in Selkirk with his partner Tracy and their five-year-old son Kris, is up against managers from Ladbrokes and Corals from Airdrie and Stranraer respectively, in the regional final.
He told us: “Of course, I’m chuffed to get this far, particularly representing Scotbet which is an independent, albeit the largest in Scotland with 70 branches.
“We all had to fill in a questionnaire on our attitude to managing our shops and that got me into the last 48. Then the judges received reports from mystery punters before deciding on the last 24. I hope I can go all the way for Selkirk which is a really friendly shop with a terrific bunch of punters.”
Glasgow-born Andy began his working life in the retail trade and came to Galashiels 13 years ago to run a sportswear shop before, in 2004, starting as a cashier at William Hill’s branch in the town.
After Scotbet bought the West Port business of Dominic Forte, Andy became manager of that branch and took over in Market Place when that shop opened two years ago.
“I don’t gamble but I get a kick out of it when punters get a lift. The best part of the job is meeting people and the banter. I’m going to get a lot of that when this goes in The Wee Paper, win or lose”, he said.