Row simmers over sponsors

A SIMMERING row over the future sponsorship of some of the most high-profile events in the English National Hunt season continued on Sunday as representatives of William Hill spoke of a "disappointment" at "attitudes" to bookmakers.

Reports on Saturday suggested Cheltenham's owners, Jockey Club Racecourses, is seeking a single sponsor for three of the crown jewels in the jump racing calendar.

The Betfair Chase at Haydock, the William Hill King George VI Chase and the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup are said to have been earmarked as a potential package for a new backer, preferably from outside the betting industry.

William Hill chief executive Ralph Topping hit out at the idea on Saturday, tweeting: "So Jockey Club are looking for single backer outside bookmaking to sponsor three most prestigious races. Upstairs downstairs syndrome returns?"

The firm's PR director Kate Miller admitted the whole affair could prompt a review of its sponsorship commitments.


Aintree regular Seabass could return to Merseyside next month as trainer Ted Walsh looks to give the 2012 Grand National third his first run of the winter campaign.

A lack of suitable opportunities here in Ireland has prompted Walsh to think of taking the 10-year-old back to Liverpool for either the Becher or Grand Sefton Chase on December 7.

"He could go back to Aintree on December 7. There are two races there, the Becher and the Grand Sefton," Walsh said.

"He might go in the Sefton over two-miles-five there in Liverpool. There are not a lot of opportunities for him here.

"He's a 154 or 155-rated horse. He'd be top weight in a handicap, but not good enough for a Grade Two or Grade Three so he might go back to Liverpool.

"It's a valuable pot."