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Search is on to find the next champion

13 April 2015

THE week of the Cheltenham Festival is always an exciting and busy one for Adam Hurley, but this year was an altogether different experience.

The 32-year-old manages the Winchcombe Street branch in the town, as well as having responsibility for five other shops in the area, but as the reigning Racing Post/SIS Betting Shop Manager of the Year last month’s festival was always going to be different.

“I was at the course every day for the first time. I did a preview for Ladbrokes TV, which was shown in all of our shops, and I also wrote a blog for the Racing Post,” he says.

Winning the competition has provided Hurley with many different opportunities. Not only has he been a regular visitor to Prestbury Park, he has been to Ascot three times and Wimbledon greyhound stadium for the Racing Post Juvenile at the end of February.

“For someone who loves the industry,horseracing and sport, it has been great. I have loved my time so far as champion,”he says.

For that reason, Hurley urges all independent managers to enter the competition. “It is a great thing to be involved in. I’ve known about it since I started working in the industry and I’ve always followed it,” he says. “It gives managers a chance to think about the industry, give their views on it and meet other managers from Britain and Ireland, as well as the judges.

There are so many opportunities if you are prepared to put in the effort to enter. “Winning the competition gives you a platform to get your views heard. Even if you don’t win, it can still help with your career progression. It’s a huge opportunity.”

Talking about the competition has brought back many happy memories for Hurley, who revealed he wasn't aware until last June that he had been nominated by Ladbrokes. As he went through the different stages last year he became more confident about the possibility of reaching the final because it offered him the opportunity to demonstrate his different skills.

“I put a lot of effort into the question-and-answer paper. I enjoy writing, so putting my thoughts down on paper was something I liked doing. The last 48 was nerve-wracking because the mystery shopper visit is a little bit out of your control – it’s down to what happens on that particular day,” he says.

“I really enjoyed being at Doncaster. I was fairly confident that with my experiences in the industry I would be able to answer any questions the judges would ask. I’m also calm under pressure and pretty cool in those sort of situations.

“The day the finalists were announced I was on a day off, so I went to my local shop to find out if I had got through. My mum also went into her local shop in Devon and when my name was read out she went up to the counter and said ‘That’s my son’. It was a proud moment for both of us.”

Next month sees Hurley fly to Singapore for his main prize – a VIP trip to the Singapore Airlines International Cup meeting– and he is starting to look forward to it. “Having received the itinerary we’ve started to think about what we can do during our spare time. I’ve also looked a bit more when the racing from Kranji is on the television in the shop.It should be a great few days.”

How the qualifying stage works:

It is up to the major companies to determine their qualifiers. There are eight regional competitions: Ireland, Scotland, north-east, north-west and Isle of Man,Midlands and Wales, south-west and Channel Islands, Anglia and south-east, and Greater London.

In the seven British regions, Betfred, Coral, Ladbrokes and William Hill will be asked to put forward two nominations for each area, with one place in each earmarked for Paddy Power.

In Ireland,there are two places reserved for Boyle Sports, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power, with one place for William Hill.

For all independent managers there is a special entry form, which as well as being posted to you, is also available from

These will be treated as one company, the independents, with two places per region allocated.A judging panel will determine who will take on the bigger firms and fly the flag for the independent bookmaking sector.

Second stage onwards:

At this point we should have 86 managers (77 from Britain and nine from Ireland), who each receive a written question paper from which six per region will be chosen by the panel to go through to the next stage.

The 48 managers through to this stage will each be subjected to a mystery shopper visit after which the panel will whittle the number down to 24 (three per region).

Those 24 managers will then spend a day at the races at Doncaster on Racing Post Trophy weekend to meet the judges.

The eight regional champions will be chosen from this day.

Each regional champion, along with a key member of their shop staff, will then attend the final selection at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel in London, which involves a question-and-answer session with the judges the day before the final.

The winner:

The final awards lunch takes place at the Carlton Tower Hotel on November 23. The winner receives a VIP trip to next year’s Singapore Airlines International Cup meeting, courtesy of the Singapore Turf Club, and will also be invited to several key racing and betting occasions during their year as champion

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