Everyone wants to be friends with Selkirk’s bookie of the year – because he’s taking a party of 60 to Kelso races.
Andy Bennett, crowned last month as the Racing Post/SIS Betting Shop Manager of the Year, was hopeful of getting a handful of free tickets for the January 15 meeting when he met course managing director Richard Landale.
But Andy, 33, who runs the town’s Scotbet outlet, did not expect to receive 60 passes to take staff, friends and customers for a day out in the Duke and Duchess Box.
A grateful Andy told TheSouthern: “Richard congratulated me, which was incredible on its own, and he asked if I wanted to bring a party across to the race course, but I wasn’t expecting to get as many as 60 complimentary tickets.
“I had shown Richard pictures on my phone of the punters with my trophy and I think he was impressed that I could tell him all their first names and what they did for a living.
“To be honest, I think I might have to give Richard a phone to get a couple more tickets, such is the demand! The punters are ecstatic as the transport is also free with Scotbet covering the cost.”
Another benefit of Andy lifting the accolade came when he took a party to the prestigious Ascot racecourse.
Along with his family and senior executives at Scotbet, Andy was accompanied by his deputy manager Allan Fox and cashiers Colin Gallacher and Eleanor Heard.
The group was transported through atrocious weather in the early hours by local taxi operators Brian “Bones” Hunter and Struan Jack. They enjoyed a day at the races and later held their staff business party at a hotel in nearby Bracknell before returning to Selkirk,
“It was a terrific day,” said Andy. “We were treated like royalty with a VIP box on the sixth floor of the spectacular Ascot stand. We had three waiters allocated to us, serving us a fantastic meal and making sure the champagne glasses were topped up all afternoon.”
On top of Ascot and Kelso, earlier this month Andy watched his beloved Rangers defeat Hibs 2-0 at Easter Road, thanks again to his employers.
“Scotbet have a box at Easter Road,” said Andy, “so I went with my mate who I used to play football with and is a Hibs diehard. I had a good chat with Gordon Smith (Rangers director of football). I asked him about the financial situation at Ibrox but he was keeping his cards close to his chest.”
Andy’s current hectic lifestyle extends to writing a weekly blog for the Racing Post. He is to visit London’s Earls Court in January for one of the world’s largest betting exhibitions and will go to a top greyhound meeting at Wimbledon in February.
Despite his new-found celebrity status, Andy has assured his Selkirk customers he has no plans to leave the Market Place shop.
He told us: “I have had a quite a few job offers since winning, but Selkirk is a great place.
“My wee boy is at school here and when myself and wife Tracy moved to Livingston to work before, she got homesick.
“I have a really good job and shop and I am friendly with all the customers.”
The main prize for being judged the UK’s best bookie will come at the end of March when he and his partner Tracy will enjoy and all-expenses-paid trip to the World Cup of Horse Racing in Dubai.