Skip to Content

Search is on to find the next Champion

11 April 2016

DOORS have opened for Matt Howe since he became the 28th winner of the competition, but the area that has interested him most is media and PR.

Howe, a Ladbrokes marketplace manager from Birmingham, is making the most of the opportunities since being crowned the 2015 Betting Shop Manager of the Year.

He said: “The first two months were a bit of a whirlwind – getting mentioned in the Racing Post as well as on other websites and television channels. I underestimated how big the competition was.

”Howe said the strangest experience came this month when he was asked to contribute to a programme on French television.

“I was in Leicester taking part in a documentary being put together by a TV channel called France 2,” he said.“It was about Leicester’s Premier League challenge and they wanted a bookmaker’s representative to take part and Ladbrokes asked me to do it.”One of the highlights for Howe and his team was a day out at Ascot’s pre-Christmas meeting courtesy of the competition’s joint-sponsor SIS in its box at the royal racecourse.

He said: “Ascot was a reward for the shop team. They had to cope with the mystery shopper visit and me being away for a couple of weekends, so it was nice that they experienced some of the rewards.”

Howe has also attended various greyhound meetings, including the Racing Post Juvenile at Wimbledon,as well as the Cheltenham Festival on Racing Post Arkle day.

The reaction to winning the competition has been a real eye-opener for Howe, who said: “It has been an overwhelming experience as you are thrust into the media spotlight. I walk into a room at events and people recognise you because you are Betting Shop Manager of the Year."

He will be at Newmarket this week with Ladbrokes’ director of media David Williams to learn more about his role. “I expected to stay in operations and work my way up, so I never thought I would have the opportunity to look at other avenues.

”Katie Harrison and Rob Linehan,who both reached the final last year as regional champions, have said how much they also gained from taking part in the competition.

Harrison, who landed the Anglia and south-east title, said: “It gave mean other level of confidence. I had a fantastic experience and met plenty of great people. I learned a lot about the industry.

“I wanted to see how far I could go. I received great support from Coral and it was a great achievement to get to the final – it’s a good thing to put on your CV.”

Linehan, who took the honours in Ireland for Paddy Power and is now an assistant area manager in the Midlands, said: “It raised my profile and has not done me any harm. It increased my confidence levels and made my feel appreciated within the industry. Being recognised and rewarded is important.

“It’s not about the brand you work for, but about how you are as a betting shop manager. If you feel you’re a good manager and you are good at your job,give it a go.”

The final word goes to last year’s winner, who said: “When you are being judged, you are being judged as a manager, not the company you work for. If you are good enough you will get through, so take time to enter.”

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 is 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, and 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 select the final 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 21. The winner receives a VIP trip to one of Singapore’s major race meetings next year, courtesy of the Singapore Turf Club, and will also be invited to several key racing and betting occasions during their year as champion.

Back to News