The recent announced expansion of Betway into Irish horse racing has people wondering: how many races do sportsbooks actually sponsor in Ireland?
While it does depend on what kind of racing you're watching, bookmakers sponsor 31% of over jumps in Ireland, compared to 62% of Britain’s 39 Grade 1s (though bookmakers are significantly less prevalent in flats racing).
Betway entered the British market in 2014, signing a deal with the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, a three-year deal that’s been extended to 2020. Betway also joined Aintree for the Grand National meeting, and sponsors four Grade 1.
Betway’s Irish Footprint
Where it comes to sponsorships in Ireland, Betway has seen rapid expansion in recent years. The Punchestown races in November saw Betway sponsor the Grade 2 Craddockstown Novice Chase at Kildare’s Winter Festival. Betway also previously sponsored three races at Galway’s Summer Races.
Betway’s Alan Alger:
”The Galway Festival was excellent and we’re now very much looking forward to our second phase of sponsorship in Irish racing. It’s a great place for us to be branching out and we’re hugely excited to be sponsoring the feature race on the opening day of the Winter Festival. The race has produced some brilliant chasers over the years and we’re looking forward to the 2018 renewal with an added interest.”
Punchestown Sales and Sponsorship Manager Janet Creighton:
“They are a company who clearly recognise the value of the Irish racing product and we very much look forward to working with them to optimise their sponsorship activity with us.”
The races being on Saturday, November 17th. The Sunday feature is the Grade 1 Morgiana Hurdle, which is being sponsored by Unibet. Simultaneously, Unibet will be live in Britain as the sponsor of Cheltenham’s Greatwood Hurdle.
Major Races Sponsored by Bookmakers
With over 2,500 races run every year in Ireland, bookmakers contributed €766,750 toward race sponsorship in 2017. The only group to come close to that kind of number was media, adding roughly €740,000.
Grade 1 races are the top 3% are the top 3% of the jumps racing pool. Punchestown is the peak with four feature races: Champion Chase, Champion Hurdle, Stayers Hurdle, and Gold Cup. All four of the feature races are sponsored by gambling operators.
The total prize of the four races combined is €1.1 million, which is more than a third of the money offered at the five-day event. It’s similar to Britain’s Cheltenham Festival, which sees their Champion Chase, Champion Hurdle, and Stayers Hurdle also backed by bookmakers. Additionally, the King George VI Chase, the biggest Grade 1 chase outside the Gold Cup, is also bookmaker sponsored.
The four Cheltenham races total a purse of €1.2 million, while the King George VI Chase is worth a quarter million. There’s more than even just those that have prize purses boosted by gambling money. The Irish Grand National (half million) and the Galway Plate (quarter million) both are also funded by bookmakers. The Scottish and Welsh Grand Nationals are sponsored by Coral, Cheltenham’s Greatwood Hurdle by Unibet, and Newbury’s Trophy Handicap Chase by Ladbrokes.