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Betfred Sponsor 2023 Derby & St Leger Classics

Betfred Sponsor 2023 Derby & St Leger Classics

While it may have escaped the notice of many, Betfred’s recent decision to re-enter the race sponsorship market is a huge positive for the sport of horse racing.

Betfred announced the end to their race sponsorship program back in 2017 while also announcing the closure of all bar one (Ascot) of their racecourse betting shops.

There were however some exceptions with Chelmsford racecourse (owned by Betfred) and Ascot racecourse continuing to see action with regards sponsored races.

At the time the decision was expected to cost the UK racing industry £6 million in lost sponsorship income with the company sponsoring nearly 1000 races back in 2016.

For perspective that marked nearly 10% of the total number of 10,035 races due to take place in the UK that year.

 While undoubtedly a blow for the sport at the time the firm continued to pay levy on its eligible bets and has kept up its vast estate of betting shops.

Derby & St Leger

 While the Grand National is undoubtedly the biggest race publicity wise in the UK of those held on the Flat, the Derby is the biggest of them all, not just to those involved in the sport but those outside of racing too.

It’s spot as one of the “crown jewels” of television so to speak and guarantee of terrestrial television coverage virtually guarantees a big audience and that’s before any extra publicity surrounding the race is taken into account.

Last month Betfred boss Fred Done announced that his company would be sponsoring the biggest flat race of them all having previously sponsored major races over jumps including the Gold Cup at Cheltenham (2012-2015) and on the Flat at Haydock (the Sprint Cup), York (Ebor) and Newmarket (Cesarewitch and Cambridgeshire). 

The Derby sponsorship will also see Betfred sponsor the fillies equivalent, the Oaks the day before and given that the firm are also going to be sponsoring the St Leger could pave the way for them to become big players race sponsorship wise once more.

Bookmakers Sponsoring Races

The question of race sponsorship, who is involved, who should be allowed to sponsor races and even who is interested in sponsoring races has been in the news in recent months with some believing certain parties/companies, most notably bookmakers (including Betfred) should not be allowed to sponsor horse races.

Sitting here typing this this feels like a ludicrous position to take given the amount that bookmakers put into the sport via the levy and additional race funding.

This sponsorship spreads from the very top of the game – Betfred sponsoring the Derby for example to the very bottom where racecourse bookmakers are regularly asked to donate to prize funds for divided point-to-point races for example.

Betfred Sponsorships 

While Betfred has cut back on its racing sponsorship in recent years it has increased sponsorship of other sports, including boxing, and rugby league and darts amongst others.

Betfred sponsor rugby league’s top division, the Super League and have done so since 2016, quite fitting for a firm whose headquarters is situated in the heartlands of the game in Warrington.

Further afield they have teamed up with RCD Mallorca sponsoring their shirt from 2019 to 2021 while they are also the current official sponsor of the Professional Darts Corporation’s World Matchplay tournament.

General Race Sponsorships 

One thing that I have noticed in recent years is that a number of race sponsors already have close links, primarily via owners or directors involved in racing. 

We can look for example at the likes of Vertem Asset Management who are the current sponsor of the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster and who’s owner John Dance (currently under investigation by the FCA) has been a major investor in racing, most famous for his crack mare Laurens a few years ago.

There’s also the likes of Ultima and Randox who have close links to racing plus sponsorship from various investment groups in the Middle East and studs and breeding operations domestically.

The Future

It’s understandable given the sports popularity that football is regularly in the news and with that in mind and the increased focus on gambling, betting companies and the future impact of the government’s white paper on gambling sponsorship has come under the spotlight.

While betting firms, mostly overseas ones it must be said, now sponsor a high number of football league clubs it isn’t certain to stay that way with plenty of voices calling for an end to gambling firms sponsoring football clubs.

This could be a positive for racing with the UK, Ireland and European based firms possibly likely to be more interested in sponsorship opportunities within horse racing as a result. 

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