Sunday 11 December 2016

New headline sponsors for two high profile British jumps races

Published 10/03/2016 | 02:30

Conor O'Neill (Alan Place/Fusionshooters)
Conor O'Neill (Alan Place/Fusionshooters)

Today's rescheduled Limerick card was promptly re-fixed for tomorrow after being lost to waterlogging yesterday morning.

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Since cancelling the final day of their Christmas Festival, officials at Limerick have now failed to host two planned replacement fixtures.

However, after losing three-in-a-row, the Munster track could now be poised to race on three successive days, as the latest rescheduling for tomorrow precedes a two-day fixture on Saturday and Sunday.

The forecast for the region is quite clear over the next couple of days, prompting course manager Conor O'Neill to announce the plan to go again tomorrow. Across the water, yesterday's card at Fontwell fell in similar circumstances, as has today's meeting at Wincanton.

Meanwhile, the ramifications of the British Horseracing Authority's (BHA) refusal to permit bookmakers that have not achieved Authorised Betting Partner (ABP) status to sponsor races continue to take effect.

Saturday's Imperial Cup, sponsored by non-ABPs for the past seven years, will now be sponsored by merchant banking group Close Brothers. Since 1991, a bonus of up to £100,000 has been offered for any winner of the Sandown race that could follow up at the Cheltenham Festival, but that is not part of the new arrangement.

Even more significantly, the featured handicap chase at Cheltenham's popular November fixture will now be backed by recently unveiled ABP, BetVictor. Formerly known as the Mackeson, Murphys and Thomas Pink Gold Cup, the main event on Open weekend has been backed by Paddy Power since 2003.

The firm has failed to agree terms with the BHA on the ABP issue. BetVictor will also take over one of the on-course betting shops left idle at Cheltenham as a result of the dispute, as well as the branding on the Channel 4 blimp for Festival week.

"We think this is a great example of how British racing can work with ABPs for the benefit of all parties," said Ian Renton of the deal on behalf of Jockey Club Racecourses.

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