Independent to extend Irish Laurels deal
The Irish Independent has been confirmed as the official sponsor of the Irish Greyhound Laurels at Curraheen Park for the next three years.
Last year saw the Irish Independent as the event sponsor for the first time and it was a hugely successful staging with the Moss O'Connor-trained Midtown Raffa the winner of the classic on a memorable night at the Cork track.
That sponsorship deal was for one year but so successful was the partnership that it will continue for the next three years. One significant change in the schedule of the 2016 Irish Independent Irish Laurels is its later dates which will be widely welcomed by greyhound owners, breeders and followers.
Last year the Laurels was run in opposition to the English Derby at Wimbledon but this year it will take place much deeper into summer with the first round due to commence on Saturday, June 18 and the final on Saturday, July 16.
This will effectively mean that the dogs contesting the English Derby will basically be free to run in the Independent Laurels. The last ever Wimbledon Derby final is due to be run on Saturday, June 4 and the Laurels will commence exactly two weeks later.
The Laurels will have a total prizefund of €60,000 with the winner to receive €30,000. Speaking at yesterday's launch at Curraheen Park, Arlene Regan, marketing and promotions manager of the Irish Independent commented: "We are delighted to renew its sponsorship of The Irish Greyhound Laurels in Curraheen Park Greyhound Stadium.
"Last year we signed an initial 12-month agreement, and we were so pleased with the event and the engagement with the greyhound racing community that we've come on board for a further three years."
Irish Greyhound Board chairman Phil Meaney said: "Last year when we announced the new sponsorship agreement with the Irish Independent, we sought to bring the Irish Greyhound Laurels to a nationwide audience. Their sponsorship delivered on this, and also provided the sponsors with a platform to communicate with their customers directly.
"The Irish Independent Irish Laurels is one of the prime events in our calendar and it is certainly fitting that a sponsor of the calibre of the Irish Independent has secured the title rights."
Pat Buckley's Lenson Panda will tonight represent Ireland in the Racing Post Juvenile Championship at Wimbledon.
Winner of the Texacloth Open at Newbridge last year, Lenson Panda (9.08) will run as a middle seed from trap five but on the evidence of his Irish running that should be no hindrance. The race will be shown live on Sky Sports 3.