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Letter: Put Tote sale on hold.

Byline: Harry Chisman

SPORTS minister Gerry Sutcliffe's recent announcement that the sale of the Tote was to be on the open market is unbelievable.

I am sure most people who are either employed in racing or support it actually believed the government when it pledged on a number of occasions that the Tote, if sold, would go to a purchaser who would continue to benefit and make contributions to horseracing.

This is certainly not going to happen if it is sold to a large plc, whose loyalties must be to shareholders.

What is so unbelievable is that the government is even considering selling the Tote before the more important issues in racing have been resolved. These are: putting in place a totally new commercial structure that replaces racing's outdated business model; and setting a definite date for ending the levy system and replacing it with an open, market-based structure.

The big advantage from the government's position is that if these two matters were settled it would both resolve the future of the Tote within racing and allow the government to be credited with living up to its pledges.

It can be nothing short of madness to contemplate breaking up a successful business that employs hundreds of people for the sake of a cut-and-run decision that, in treasury terms, is going to bring small change.

There is only one Tote. It has established an excellent record and reputation over many years and it is our duty to see it preserved as a company.

We must support the workforce and hold the government to its earlier pledges.

It is down to every racehorse owner, every trainer and all supporters of the sport. People-power wins if we stand up and be counted.

Please write to your local MP at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA, in the strongest terms, and say that you require the government to delay any further move on the Tote sale until the more important issues for the racing industry are resolved.

Harry Chisman Stratford-upon-Avon
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Mar 30, 2008
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