UK bookmaker Ladbrokes has announced a two-year extension to its title sponsorship of the St Leger Festival horse racing event at Doncaster Racecourse.
Ladbrokes has sponsored the world’s oldest classic race for the past 10 years and its new deal with Arena Racing Company, the owners of the Yorkshire venue, covers the 2015 and 2016 editions.
The most recent agreement between Ladbrokes and ARC expired this year and the partnership was widely reported to be under threat due to the St Leger clashing with the similarly high-profile Irish Champions weekend.
Nick Rust, managing director of Ladbrokes Retail, told UK broadcaster Sky Sports: “It is well known within the industry that we were disappointed by the BHA's (British Horseracing Authority’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.”
The financial terms of the deal between Ladbrokes and ARC were not disclosed.