26 June 2017 – Racing Post
William Hill have become the new sponsor of the world’s oldest Classic after it was announced on Monday they will be backing the St Leger for the next three years. Hills take over from rivals Ladbrokes, who ended their 12-year association amid a row over several bookmakers’ financial contribution to the sport.
Having helped reinvigorate the St Leger during their time as sponsors, Ladbrokes removed the race from their portfolio having failed to agree terms on racing’s controversial authorised betting partners scheme. The ABP policy dictated that in order to sponsor races, bookmakers made a contribution to racing’s finances from their profits on the sport which were not then subject to the levy.
Ladbrokes refused to agree to the policy, and withdrew their sponsorship of the St Leger, as well as the World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. William Hill also declined to become an ABP, but with the policy ending once the new levy scheme was introduced earlier in the year, the firm have decided to return to the fray of major race sponsorship in what is the first major bookmaker deal signed since the ABP initiative lapsed.
This year’s four-day meeting at Doncaster, starting September 13, will be known as the William Hill St Leger festival, with the feature race carrying a total prize fund of £700,000. Philip Bowcock, chief executive of William Hill, said: “William Hill is one of the best known brands in betting – with a long history of horseracing sponsorship. “We are delighted to sponsor the oldest Classic and we will work closely with Arena Racing Company to continue to build the profile and popularity of the William Hill St Leger festival.”
Arc chief executive Martin Cruddace added: “We are delighted William Hill have become the new sponsors of the St Leger. We really enjoy working with their team and look forward to extending this to our feature racing festival of the year. William Hill have the brand, vision and team to help build on the success of both the four-day festival and the feature race, the St Leger, which continues to be one of the most important races in the racing calendar.”