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Angry Ayr layers forsake pitches for a day in town.

Byline: Tom O'Ryan

BOOKMAKERS staged a protest in their long-standing dispute with Ayr yesterday by staying away from the course, with several choosing to spend the afternoon in the town rather than ply their trade on the track, writes Tom O'Ryan.

Only two Tattersalls bookies set up, along with four rails layers, with the notable absentees being Bert Logan, Ricky Nelson and Julie Williams, daughter of the late Freddie.

The main complaint was that the Tattersalls enclosure was closed yesterday, meaning it was a single-enclosure day. But bookmakers, who inquired about moving their pitches to a site used on other days near the parade ring, would have been charged pounds 150, which they deemed to be "commercially non-viable".

Long-standing north-east bookmaker Bryan Hazell said: "I've bet here since 1974 and cannot understand the attitude of the management. Instead of having discussions with our association they make decisions and we've got to like it or lump it."

Hazell added: "I came here today, a three-and-a-half-hour journey, with two teams, one for my Tatts pitch and one for my rails pitch, but I haven't bothered to set up in Tatts and I've given that team the day off. I know of about six other Tatts bookmakers who, instead of betting here, are spending the day in Ayr.

"The place is a mess. The toilets around the back are appalling, and what's the point in anyone setting up in Tatts when there are no facilities open? This is an off-day, and you'd think they could waive the additional premium for betting near the parade ring. It's just commercially nonviable to set up there at a cost of pounds 150." Course bookmakers had previously been in dispute with Ayr over the creation of new pitch positions in 2008, which the course put up for tender rather than giving priority to senior layers.

Ian Ferguson, Ayr's head of PR, said: "It has been widely known for a long time that the Tattersalls enclosure would be closed and that today would be a single-enclosure meeting. The bookmakers have made a commercial decision not to bet here today."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Mar 26, 2010
Words:351
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