After a decade of sponsorship it has been announced that Ladbrokes will be replaced as the sponsors of the World Hurdle at next month’s Cheltenham Festival.
Ryanair has been announced as the replacement sponsor, the airline is already a backer of the Grade One race on day three of the Festival.
The Authorised Betting Partner scheme was introduced by racing in November and ensures that only those bookmakers who have come to terms with the sport will be allowed to sign new sponsorship deals with many of the main tracks, including Cheltenham.
Ladbrokes does not fall under this category and whilst it was expected that the bookmaker’s wish to continue its long running and high-profile association with Cheltenham Festival would lead to an agreement being made, this has not turned out to be the case.
It seems unlikely now that Ladbrokes will become an authorised betting partner as what is surely its main incentive has now passed. Ladbrokes also opted not to run two betting shops at the festival, including one in the Sovereign Bar at the main grandstand, despite being offered the chance to, which means there are now two vacant slots for betting premises at Cheltenham as it stands.
Ladbrokes’ spokesman, David Williams said: “It struck us as at least peculiar that our money and expertise were welcome in one part of the racecourse and not in another. We didn’t feel comfortable in continuing to run the shops.”