With the Countdown to Cheltenham well underway, SBC has continued to question the betting industry’s major operators on what to expect at the four day event.
Speaking with Betway’s Head of Corporate Communications and PR Alan Alger, he revealed that sponsoring the Betway Champion Chase is a key asset for the operator, and suggested that Ballymoy could be worth backing each-way.
SBC: How important is the sponsorship of The Festival for Betway in terms of growing brand awareness? And how is Betway getting ‘festival ready’?
Alan Alger: Sponsoring the Betway Champion Chase is a hugely important part of our partnership portfolio. It’s one of the most exciting races of the festival each year and to have our extensive branding up on day two is a valuable asset.
The planning always ramps up at the turn of the year, although this will be the sixth season of being a tier one sponsor at the meeting, so we hopefully now have an idea of exactly what works and what doesn’t.
SBC: What role will request a bets and promotional offers play in engaging punters with this year’s festival?
Alan Alger: I think the racing is competitive enough that most customers will be focusing on the traditional markets. Our unique ‘betyourway’ request bets are increasing in popularity on horse racing, after their extensive use in football. Our varied promotional offers have been performing well at recent festivals and we expect this year to be no different. Our exclusive ‘4 to Win’ free to play competition will offer punters the chance to land a £50,000 pot each day.
SBC: Three of the shortest-priced favourites of the week have been lined up to race on the Wednesday of Cheltenham Festival – is this a worry for Betway? and how does Betway plan to mitigate the risk of a ‘Wednesday wipeout’?
Alan Alger: While all bookmakers will be wary of multiples and running-up money, we have to trust the fact that it’s a four day meeting and there will be the usual highs and lows. While Wednesday looks an obvious place for dangers, something can hit unexpectedly – last year we had a near-£1million liability on Might Bite in the Gold Cup due to an inspired multiple from one Betway customer.
SBC: The Gold Cup hasn’t been defended since 2004, what are the chances of current joint favourite Al Boum Photo doing it for Willie Mullins this year?
Alan Alger: Last year’s winner has around a 20% chance of making it a double success. That looks about right, when you think about recent Gold Cup victors and their lack of subsequent success in any race, let alone the blue riband event – it shows how much it takes out of a thoroughbred to win it once, let alone twice.
SBC: And finally, are there any runners that SBC readers should be keeping an eye on?
Alan Alger: Ballymoy still has a chase and hurdles engagement, whichever one he ends up in he’s well worth backing each-way.