Native River winning what will be the last Hennessy Gold Cup
By Jon Lees 7:17AM 1 MAR 2017
THE Hennessy Gold Cup was given a new title and a £50,000 prize-money boost on Tuesday, with the historic race becoming the Ladbrokes Trophy when it next takes place in December.
With Hennessy severing its 60-year association with the race in 2016, ending the longest-running commercial sponsorship in racing, Ladbrokes have stepped in to back both days of the meeting, which will be known as the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival.
The value of the Ladbrokes Trophy will increase to £250,000, with the £50,000 Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle the feature prize on Friday. Total prize-money on both days will rise by almost £100,000 to £700,000, with the bookmakers sponsoring 13 of the 14 races in an initial five-year deal.
The only race not sponsored by Ladbrokes is the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase on the Saturday, which will continue to be supported by the friends of the late BBC commentator.
Newbury chief executive Julian Thick said: “This is a major partnership for us and we will be working hard with the Ladbrokes team to build up the profile of the meeting over the coming months and years. One aspiration we both hold is to encourage more entries from trainers based in Ireland.”
Ladbrokes are not an authorised betting partner, meaning they were precluded from signing new commercial deals and had to withdraw from backing the St Leger and Stayers’ Hurdle.
In agreeing a deal with Ladbrokes, Newbury cited the government’s announcement last month that it intended to press on with levy replacement from April 1 as justification.
Ladbrokes PR director Mike Dillon said the firm was committed to ensuring the meeting.
He said: “It becomes one of the peak events of the National Hunt season, a meeting that is magnetic for the professionals and the public. We are certain it can be a beacon of all that is best in the sport.”