Bookmaker sponsorship of races is nothing new. Typically they sponsor around 5% of all the races run in Britain. Generally speaking, their approach is to sponsor most of the races on a specific card, with big runner handicaps and prestigious Group or Graded races always a popular target for them.
This season, BetVictor is taking over a relatively new approach, like that provided by Sportingbet a year ago, and sponsoring a particular championship. This takes in three of the major two-mile chases of the season, starting with the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter today. They’ll follow that with next month’s Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown, and finish off with the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
In years past, all three races have all benefited from bookmaker sponsorship, with William Hill looking after today’s contest between 1996 and 2010, and also picking up the Tingle Creek for four years in the noughties. But it was Sportingbet who brought the three together under the same banner, signing a one-year deal with Jockey Club Racecourses, which BetVictor has now repeated.
They will promote the package as “The Road to Cheltenham”. Announcing the package a week ago Charlie McCann of BetVictor commented: "We are delighted to lend our name and support to three such fantastic and prestigious races culminating in the BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase next March.
We are looking forward to the likelihood of seeing Colin Tizzard's star Cue Card make his reappearance in the BetVictor Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter next month, and that of the Champion Chaser Sprinter Sacre in the BetVictor Tingle Creek in December. The latter is looking to join such greats of the turf as Moscow Flyer and Kauto Star to win the Sandown feature back-to-back and we can't wait to begin what we hope will be a long and happy association with all three tracks.”
I just hope they don't ask Maurice to present the prize.