Arena Racing Company (ARC) has confirmed William Hill as the new title sponsor of the St Leger Stakes, the world’s oldest classic horse race.
The three-year deal will see the bookmaker not only sponsor the historic Group One race but also a feature race from each day of the four-day festival, which will be known as The William Hill St Leger Festival.
The 2017 St Leger festival will be held at its traditional venue, Doncaster Racecourse, between 13th September and 16th September. The St Leger Stakes, which is open to colts and fillies, is run over a distance of one mile and six furlongs and has been a fixture on British horseracing’s calendar since 1776.
The 2016 race – won by the Laura Mongan-trained Harbour Law – had a prize pot of UK£700,000 with winning owners Jackie Cornwell and Daniel Lee taking home UK£396,970.
The race was previously sponsored by rival bookmaker Ladbrokes. The 12-year partnership was forced to an end because of the British Horseracing Authority’s (BHA) stance that refuses to accept the backing of firms who are not approved betting partners (ABPs), which Ladbrokes is not.
“We are delighted William Hill have become the new sponsors of the St Leger, said Martin Cruddace, ARC’s chief executive. “We really enjoy working with their team and look forward to extending this to our feature racing festival of the year. William Hill has the brand, vision and team to help build on the success of both the four-day festival and the feature race, the St Leger, which continues to be one of the most important races in the British Racing calendar.”
Philip Bowcock, chief executive of William Hill, added: “William Hill is one of the best known brands in betting - with a long history of horseracing sponsorship. We are delighted to sponsor the oldest classic and we will work closely with ARC to continue to build the profile and popularity of the William Hill St Leger Festival.”
The St Ledger is the last of the five annual British classics and is the final leg of both the Fillies' Triple Crown and the English Triple Crown, which was last achieved by the Vincent O’Brien-trained Nijinsky in 1970 under renowned jockey Lester Piggott.