It was confirmed on Tuesday of this week that Celtic Bookmakers -the successful betting business spearheaded by former Government Minister Ivan Yates – is to become the main sponsor of this year’s Roscommon Lions Club Cheltenham Festival Preview at the Abbey Hotel on Monday, March 3rd. Announcing the news at a media reception in The Percy French Hotel in Strokestown, Lions Club President Mr. John F. Hanley said the new sponsorship deal would bring the popular Preview Night for racing enthusiasts to a new level. ‘Celtic Bookmakers are one of the most successful operators in the betting shop business in Ireland" John said, "with more than sixty shops Celtic and their supremo Ivan Yates bring a wealth of experience and knowledge of the field to the event – we are satisfied that this will be an even more enjoyable night for six hundred people who want their cards marked professionally for Cheltenham.’ Ivan Yates from Celtic Bookmakers will now join a panel of some of the top experts on national hunt in Ireland and the UK at the Lions Club Preview on March 3rd. Alongside Ivan on the panel will be RTE’s top racing personality Tracy Piggott, top trainer Tony Mullins, jockeys Robbie Power, P.W. Flood and Ken Whelan, the senior national hunt handicapper Noel O’Brien and top UK Racing personality Robert Cooper from the ‘At The Races’ channel. The presence of Ivan Yates on the panel is special. Having turned his back on politics, Ivan has since turned his Celtic Bookmakers chain of betting shops into a significant success story. For more than two decades, Ivan Yates was a genuine political heavyweight, with the Fine Gael TD and one-time Minister widely regarded as the party’s leader-in-waiting. After his decision to retire from politics Ivan Yates soon set about establishing Celtic Bookmakers as a major player in the market. When Yates quit politics, Celtic Bookmakers had 11 shops in the south-east. Today, it has more than sixty outlets across Ireland and Wales and more are scheduled to open within the next twelve months. On the night of the Cheltenham Preview Celtic will operate a special betting table on the floor of the Abbey Hotel, offering the top odds on the Festival and the opportunity for punters to set up a new account with Celtic. Ivan will also ask each member of the panel to make advantage of a charity bet offered by Celtic will all proceeds going to Lions Club charity projects. Roscommon Lions Club President John F. Hanley has paid tribute to Leo Cox of EDA Cox and The Percy French Hotel and Dermot Hughes of Toyota Car Sales in Roscommon for their ongoing support for the Cheltenham Preview. ‘Dermot and Leo have been great supporters of this event and will continue to be very important players in the Preview’ John said, ‘with the arrival of Celtic and Ivan Yates we genuinely feel we have established our own winning team for Cheltenham and we hope the general public will enjoy the night.’ For more information contact Roscommon Lions Club Vice-President Ciaran Mullooly at 087 2433201 or 0906625626.