British bookmakers Coral has signed a three-year deal with Leopardstown racecourse to sponsor the full seven-race card on January 17th – including two €100,000 feature races.
The deal comes as the dispute between certain bookmakers and the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) over the future funding of the sport in Britain became more entrenched.
The sport's ruling body in Britain announced a three-year deal with Betfair that makes the firm the first official Authorised Betting Partner (ABP) of racing. Coral, which recently took out a licence in Ireland, has so far rejected the ABP scheme.
Welcoming the new tie-in with Coral – which also includes a €100,000 bonus to any horse that can win the Coral.ie Hurdle and go on to land the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival – Leopardstown racecourse chief executive, Pat Keogh, said: “We are delighted to welcome Coral to Leopardstown. The two feature races on the day are both steeped in tradition. The Coral.ie Hurdle is always an extremely competitive race and the bonus with the Coral Cup at Cheltenham adds a new dimension that will be very popular. The Coral.ie Chase is one of our oldest races, which the legendary Arkle won three times.”
“We look forward to working with Coral to make this a very special day at Leopardstown. We hope that this is the start of a very long relationship with Coral and thank them for their support of Leopardstown,” said Keogh.
The BHA’s deal with Betfair will formalise a financial arrangement for three years from April, under which the company will pay the sport a percentage of the profit it makes from betting on British racing.
Betfair was, along with 32Red and Bet365, deemed to be an ABP when the BHA launched the scheme in October, because those firms were already contributing to racing from the profits made by their online businesses.
The ABP scheme contains incentives for firms to sign up, as well as punishments for those who do not, notably that uncooperative bookmakers will be prevented from sponsoring at participating racetracks. That includes most of the major courses, although high-profile independents such as Ascot and Newbury have so far reserved their positions.
Some bookmakers have expressed outrage about the ABP scheme and threatened to invest their money elsewhere and in other sports. The first visible sign of that came yesterday when Coral announced the Leopardstown deal.
"This will be the first time Coral has sponsored a horse racing event in Ireland," the firm said in a statement, "and celebrates the fact that Coral has recently obtained an Irish betting licence and is authorised by the Irish Government to take bets from people in Ireland.
“This gives us the perfect platform to promote the Coral name, our passion for horse racing and the benefits of our online and mobile betting service to Irish racing fans and punters.”
The deal is for an initial period of three years. Coral used the statement to point out that it has backed the Welsh National since 1973 and the Eclipse Stakes since 1976 under deals that cannot be extended unless the firm signs up to be an ABP in Britain. Guardian Service