Death of bookmaker, tipster, owner and punter John 'Joe' Bates
John Bates, a well-known figure on the racecourse for many years as a bookmaker, punter and owner, died at home in Leicestershire on Saturday on his 72nd birthday following a long illness.
Bates, who was christened Christopher John Bates but bet as Joe Bates, played in bands in the Andover area in his youth, singing in one in which Richard Hannon played drums. He later cut a couple of singles as Chris Bates, toured with Gene Pitney, and had a hit in Scandinavia.
He began in bookmaking on Midlands greyhounds tracks in the 1970s, then bet on the back line at racecourses before working his way up the pecking order. He later bought rails pitches at northern tracks including Chester and York, picking them up cheap on learning that boards on the rails were soon to be allowed. However, they were all sold long before his death.
Bates had a regular weekly column, Bookies Beat, in the Sporting Life for a while and ran several tipping lines before becoming involved with in-running betting following the advent of betting exchanges. He was also an owner with John White and Gary Moore.
As if life were not full enough, he also had a fascination for spiritual healing and holistic medicine and practised reflexology on both people and horses, in part as a relief from the pressures of racing.
Hannon recalled: "We were in a band together 50 or 55 years ago called Man Friday when I suppose we were 18 or 19. We weren't very good, but we were pals and I'd see him years later on the racecourse. I was sorry to hear the news."
Moore said: "Joe was an owner with me in the 1990s when he was living in Worthing. He was a good judge of form and a great character. I remember him enjoying a touch or two on a horse he claimed from Ian Balding called Jona Holley."
Bates is survived by his wife Rita, a former greyhound trainer, and son Joe. Funeral arrangements will follow in due course.