“Running a betting shop in 2011 is both a business and social challenge ... what Andy Bennett does in Selkirk is outstanding and just edges the verdict in the tightest of years.” – writes Andrew Keddie.
So said Brough Scott, chairman of an esteemed panel of judges which, on Monday, declared that the 33-year-old, who runs the Selkirk branch of independent bookies Scotbet, was the Racing Post/SIS Betting Shop Manager of the Year.
A 6-1 outsider when the eight regional winners were announced earlier this month, unassuming Andy carried the hopes of Scotland, the Borders and his adopted town into the upmarket surroundings of the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel in London’s Knightsbridge for the award ceremony.
By his side was partner Tracy, his co-manager Alan Fox and his wife Jenny, and bigwigs from Scotbet, which has more than 60 Scottish branches.
After receiving the trophy from BBC racing pundits John Parrott and Gary Wiltshire, Andy’s thoughts immediately turned to his five-year-old son Kris who was being cared for in Glasgow by his grandparents.
His return to Selkirk delayed by a flurry of media interviews, he told TheSouthern: “This is the longest we’ve been away from Kris since he was born ... we just hope he’ll be pleased with the present from Harrods we’re bringing him.”
Andy, received a hero’s welcome when he returned to the Market Place shop yesterday, telling us he had been “absolutely overwhelmed” by the reaction to his victory – as evidenced by the two-page spread in Tuesday’s Racing Post and an invitation to appear on this Saturday’s edition of Channel 4’s Morning Line.
Andy and Tracy are now looking forward to a VIP trip to Dubai for next year’s World Cup.
Before that Andy, Alan, relief manager Colin Gallacher and cashier Eleanor Heard will enjoy an all-expenses-paid day out at Ascot next month.