While the proliferation of betting sponsorships in football has taken something of a media hammering of late, many sportsbooks remain heavily involved in horse racing. Continuing the trend, Betfair has just signed a deal that will see it continue as a heavyweight sponsor of the sport.
Betfair's arrangement with Jockey Club Racecourses, the operation that manages the running of fifteen of the leading venues in the UK and Ireland, has been extended for another two years until 2019. Paul Fisher, Chief Executive of Jockey Club Racecourses, is absolutely thrilled about the extension:
"As a major supporter of British Racing we’re delighted Betfair is continuing to partner with us on two of the biggest days of jump racing in the calendar. ABP [Authorised Betting Partner] may have finished following the reform of the levy, but we remain extremely grateful to Betfair, not only for the role they played as a founding partner, but also for the ongoing support they offer to racing."
That means the Betfair Chase, run at Haydock Park each November, and the Betfair Tingle Creek – the Christmas extravaganza from the National Hunt at Sandown Park, will continue to be known as such for the foreseeable future!
Betfair’s presence in horse racing continues to go from strength to strength, and it remained an ABP of British Racing until the levy was reformed earlier this year. That enabled the firm to ink the deal with Jockey Club Racecourses, who had said that it would work only with confirmed ABPs in its operations.
The move comes at a time when Betfred, one of Betfair’s horse racing competitors both on course and on the high street, has announced that it will cease its sponsorship of the sport. That will come into force in July 2018, when Betfred’s deal as the sole betting pools supplier to British Racing expires.
The brand has been one of the most prolific sponsors of the sport, ploughing nearly £6 million a year into racing, so the move will surely come as a blow both to Betfred and British racing. Some 49 of its 51 on-course betting shops will close – Ascot and Chelmsford the only survivors of the cull – with boss Fred Done saying:
"I won't stay where I'm not wanted. As from next year, racing and Betfred have got to learn to live without each other."
The path for bookmakers to sponsor major sporting events in the UK looks set to become a rocky one, with a backlash gathering in football towards the game’s link-up with betting firms. The Premier League campaign of 2016/17 had ten of the 20 top-flight teams sponsored by gambling firms, with Ladbrokes leading the way.
This was a record high that saw the Football Association cut its own ties with Ladbrokes, amongst others. The government is planning its own review of the gambling industry, with the shadow Labour cabinet already revealing plans to ban bookmakers from having their logos on the front of Premier League shirts, should they get into power at the next General Election.
The summer in the UK and Ireland is home to the flat racing campaign, and while there is plenty of excitement to titillate punters it doesn’t quite have the same level of prestige as the National Hunt season. As the leaves on the trees turn golden, jump racing will be in full force – and bettors will have lots of ‘majors’ to enjoy.
The two Betfair-sponsored races are just the tip of the iceberg. The Betfair Chase is a Grade 1 steeplechase – the first of the season – that tests the merits of the strongest stayers in the land. It is perhaps best known for the heroics of Kauto Star, a four-time winner between 2006-2011.
It has also acted as the launchpad for a number of outstanding horses including Imperial Commander, Silviniaco Conti and Cue Card. The Betfair Tingle Creek, meanwhile, takes pride of place in the schedule of Sandown Park’s Christmas Festival each year in early December.
Founded in 1979 and named after Tingle Creek, the horse who won multiple times at Sandown, this is a great opportunity to see some quality operators in action ahead of the packed early 2018 race calendar. The list of Tingle Creek winners reads like a who’s who of contemporary horse racing:
Those listed above all took the honours in what is a perennially first-class renewal at Sandown. As you can see, Betfair has long been a major player in the UK and Irish horse racing scene and this renewed sponsorship of some of the world's top venues just reiterates the bookmaker's dedication to the sport. Head over to Betfair now to check out the latest horse racing odds and promotions!