By David Baxter 12:19PM 23 JAN 2017
LADBROKES have been confirmed as the new sponsor of the race formerly known as the Hennessy, signalling the end of longest sponsorship deal in British racing history.
Speculation had been rife the bookmaker would take over sponsoring the famous Grade 3 handicap chase, which was won this season by Native River and which had been backed by Hennessy for 60 years.
That was confirmed on Monday, and the Ladbrokes association will extend beyond the Gold Cup, with the firm now sponsoring 13 of the 14 races at the track’s two-day winter festival.
Total prize-money for the Gold Cup will be increased by 25 per cent to £250,000, and it will be run under its new guise for the first time on Saturday, December 2.
The total prize-money for the two-day meeting will be increased by nearly £100,000 to £700,000.
As well as ending a historic sponsorship deal, the confirmation of Ladbrokes as a big-race sponsor is sure to raise some eyebrows, as they are not part of British racing’s Authorised Betting Partners scheme.
The firm have failed to reach an agreement with racing’s stakeholders regarding a suitable digital contribution to the levy, but with the existing levy model due to be replaced in April, Newbury’s executive decided a deal could be struck.
Course chairman Dominic Burke said: “The Newbury Board’s decision to partner with Ladbrokes as the new sponsor for this prestigious meeting was made in light of the Government’s commitment to replace the existing Levy Scheme from April, 2017.
“Given the Government’s position, our Board felt that it could agree future sponsorship arrangements with any betting operator for race meetings taking place after that April date.”
Under the ABP scheme, Ladbrokes lost the right to sponsor the World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, which is now the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle.
Committed to raising profile
The deal will run for five years, and Ladbrokes chief executive Jim Mullen added: “Horseracing is a vital part of the heritage of our business, and we are passionate about maintaining our support of the sport.
“We have committed to work in partnership with Newbury racecourse to build the two days of this fixture into one of the most compelling attractions not just in the racing calendar, but in that of sport as a whole.”
The only race which will not fall under the sponsorship of Ladbrokes at the meeting will be the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Handicap Chase, which will continue to be supported by the friends of Sir Peter.