24 September 2014 – Racing UK
Ladbrokes is to continue its long-standing sponsorship of the St Leger at Doncaster for at least two more years. The announcement ends speculation about whether the bookmaking firm would end its support of the world’s oldest Classic because of its direct clash with Irish Champions weekend. Ladbrokes and Doncaster owners, Arena Racing Company, have built up the race over the last 10 years and want to carry on that work in a deal that is aligned to ARC’s media contract with Doncaster, which expires at the end of 2016. The bookmaker has written to ARC managing director Tony Kelly, reiterating its commitment to the Leger and seek to build upon the success they have achieved together.
Nick Rust, managing director of Ladbrokes Retail, said: “It is well known within the industry that we were disappointed by the BHA’s approach to supporting the decision of Irish Champions weekend to clash with Ladbrokes St Leger weekend. “We were concerned that having worked so hard with Doncaster and others in racing to restore the status of the race, the move could lead to conflicts of interests for many in the build-up to the race and on the day itself. The easy thing to do would be to walk away from the Leger now that our current agreement has ended. It would save us significant costs and make a clear point about our frustrations with the way in which the race planning developments played out. However, at a time when British racing and betting operators are working hard to find a sustainable, commercially-based model for our future partnership, and one which addresses the substantial issues arising from the double-whammy of declining consumer interest in betting on racing and increasing costs to betting operators, such a decision would be short-sighted and unhelpful. We want to continue to build the profile of the Ladbrokes St Leger and our successful partnership with ARC. We see this sponsorship renewal as part of a potential template for the way in which betting operators and commercial organisations within British racing can work together for the long term.”
Kelly said: “ARC and Doncaster racecourse are delighted Ladbrokes have decided to extend their sponsorship. It is testament to the successful partnership we have forged over the last decade that the Ladbrokes St Leger Festival has gone from strength to strength to the benefit of all in British racing. On a personal note I would like to thank Mike Dillon (of Ladbrokes) and his team for their tireless effort to promote the festival and its feature race. We welcome and support the pragmatic approach taken by the Ladbrokes’ ececutive and greatly value the ongoing commercial partnership ARC enjoys with the company. ARC recognises Ladbrokes’ desire to link its sponsorship agreements with the overall payments it makes to British racing and this extension gives us the chance to discuss that opportunity in the coming years.”