A North East family run betting shop which has been trading for over 34 years is celebrating a year of major investment and innovation by launching a huge competition and going back to its roots at Sedgefield Racecourse.

Owned and run by Johan Vickers, a retired amateur jockey whose first ride under rules took place at the course and whose father and grandfather were both racehorse trainers, Vickers Bet has seen huge investment over the last 12 months, with the launch of an app and a website to rival industry heavyweights.

The company has also begun a partnership with household name, Derek ‘Tommo’ Thompson – a well-known horse racing pundit who is also famed for the ‘are you well, I thought you were’ quip which was so amusing to BBC Radio One’s Greg James.

Johan said: “We wanted to be more creative, more innovative than ‘just a bookie’s’. With the various lockdowns, our business might not have survived the pandemic if we had not innovated and made ourselves available online.

“The world of gambling has changed, and we have changed with it – we’ve added Bet Builder which allows you to design your own wager, Bet Club which rewards loyal customers with free bets, casino games and all of this with protective measures in place to keep people safe and avoid over-spending.”

To celebrate, Vickers Bet is sponsoring a race day at Sedgefield Racecourse on 25th February, where new app users will be able to take advantage of a ‘bet £10, get £10 free’ incentive – from the comfort of their own homes of course. But the company is also launching a competition, open to all over the age of 18, to win an account with £1,000 in free bets with the winner being announced live on TV by Tommo himself, on the day of the races.

Derek Thompson said: “I’ve known the family for years and used to ride with and against Ian Vickers! He was a top horseman and it’s good to see the family putting money into racing when it needs it at this difficult time.”

Johan’s father, Ian Vickers had a successful career with notable moments including Come Fast winning the Portland Handicap at Doncaster, Golden Fancy winning a Haig Whisky final, and Pergoda breaking the track record at Musselburgh.

The £1,000 free bet account competition runs from 3pm Monday 15th February to 3pm Thursday 25th February. To qualify, customers must place a single £20 bet on any sport, event, market, and selection type at vickers.bet.

For more information about Vickers Bet or the competition and its terms and conditions, see www.vickers.bet.