Last year’s running of the race was the 60th, so the ending of the Hennessy sponsorship marked the end of the longest sponsorship deal in British racing. The cognac company announced that it would be stepping down as the sponsor for the race last December, and Ladbrokes were immediately touted as the most likely replacements.
That idea wasn’t without controversy, as Ladbrokes doesn’t participate in the Authorised Betting Partners (ABP) scheme, and racecourses are not meant to sign such deals with companies outside that agreement. Fortunately for the bookmaker, Newbury racecourse doesn’t participate in ABP either, and since the scheme itself may cease to operate when the new levy scheme comes into force in April, the racecourse decided that it was able to agree a new sponsorship deal with whoever it wanted for races that are scheduled to be held after April.
The new deal with Ladbrokes, which is set to run for five years, will see the betting company sponsor a total of 13 races per year at Newbury over a period of two days at the beginning of December. The total amount of prize money awarded over the two days will be £700,000, which is almost £100,000 more than previously, and the purse for the Gold Cup itself will increase from almost £200,000 to a significantly larger £250,000.
There is still quite some time to go before the first Ladbrokes Gold Cup takes place at the end of the year, but it is good to know who the new sponsors are and how the race will be referred to in the future. The Hennessy Gold Cup has provided some scintillating entertainment over the last 60 years, and we look forward to the Ladbrokes Gold Cup continuing that tradition.