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Ulster racing on outside looking with levy system change

By Frank Brownlow

Published 03/03/2016

Dampener on day: head groundsman Fintan Ward and Tracey Quail of hospitality after yesterday’s Downpatrick meeting was cancelled after 10mm of overnight rainfall
Dampener on day: head groundsman Fintan Ward and Tracey Quail of hospitality after yesterday’s Downpatrick meeting was cancelled after 10mm of overnight rainfall

Northern Ireland racing will be left to look on with envy when the Government reveal plans for a replacement for the levy system which would capture all betting on horseracing whether in betting shops or online.

The racing industry has long called for government intervention against the current system, from which offshore online betting is exempt and costs the sport tens of millions of pounds.

A ministerial response will be made today, outlining a scheme that could be in place by April next year which would pool together income from betting to give the sport a big cash boost.

But Northern Ireland's two tracks - Down Royal and Downpatrick - do not come under the British system.

  • The meeting scheduled for Downpatrick yesterday was cancelled after snow and rain hit the County Down course.

An early-morning inspection was called due to an adverse weather forecast, and following 10 millimetres of snow and rain overnight the track was found to be unfit for racing.

Ruby Walsh and Barry Geraghty were just two of the big names scheduled to ride.

  • Top rider Paddy Brennan heads up the panel at the annual Sean Graham Bookmakers Cheltenham Preview Night at the Europa Hotel on Monday.

As well as Cue Card jockey Brennan, the panel includes leading trainer Gordon Elliott, David Casey who is representing the all-powerful Willie Mullins yard, professional punter Mark 'The Couch' Winstanley, Gary O'Brien of Attheraces, Racing UK's Richard Hoiles and Brian and Ronan Graham of Sean Graham Bookmakers.

Tickets are on sale in all Sean Graham shops, priced at £10 which includes a £5 matched bet.

Doors open at 7.15pm, with proceedings starting at 8pm.

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