BETTING company William Hill have succeeded Ladbrokes as sponsor of the St Leger, the world’s oldest Classic.
The three-year deal sees the Leeds-based bookmaker secure naming rights to the St Leger, worth £700,000, and a feature race on each day of the four-day festival at Doncaster.
Over 60,000 racegoers regularly attend the meeting, which is scheduled to take place from September 13-16 this year. It culminates with the St Leger, which was first run in 1776.
William Hill already sponsor a number of Flat races, including the Ayr Gold Cup and Great St Wilfrid at Ripon. The firm have said they will work with Arena Racing Company – owners of Doncaster – to enhance the meeting’s reputation.
Chief executive Philip Bowcock said: “William Hill is one of the best known brands in betting – with a long history of horse racing 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.”
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.Doncaster Racecourse chief executive, Philip Bowcock
Doncaster executive director Tim Banfield said: “We aim to have a real and long-term partnership with all our sponsors and we look forward to integrating William Hill’s world-renowned brand into our feature event.”
The St Leger, staged over one mile, six furlongs, has been won five times by top jockey Frankie Dettori.
However, Dettori faces another two weeks on the injury sidelines after missing Royal Ascot with an arm injury sustained when he was unseated from a horse in the paddock at Yarmouth earlier this month.
He misses the ride on John Gosden’s Cracksman in Saturday’s Irish Derby.
Furthermore, 2016 winner Harbour Law will not race again this season after picking up an injury when finishing third to Big Orange in last week’s Ascot Gold Cup.
It is a disappointing blow to trainer Laura Mongan who became the first female trainer to saddle the St Leger winner. “He won’t be running again this season,” she said. “We were so excited after the race as he ran so well. It’s so frustrating but we’ll get him back. He tried his heart out. Maybe the ground was a bit quick for him. It’s a tendon injury; it’s not too serious, but it just needs time.
“We’ll look after him. He’s only young and he’s lightly raced so he’ll come back.”
Declan Carroll’s Santry, an unlucky runner-up at Royal Ascot, could be aimed at York’s Gimcrack Stakes in August.
The two-year-old sprinter was done no favours by the draw at Ascot and only went down by half- a-length to Aidan O’Brien’s Sioux Nation in the Norfolk Stakes.
“Santry came out of the race as sound as a pound,” said the Malton trainer. “Ascot was bittersweet, really. To go so close and not win was disappointing, but I’m so proud of the horse.
“We’ll probably go to York now for the Gimcrack. I said about possibly running him in the Nunthorpe on the day, but he’s not just a five-furlong horse and I see him as a miler next year.
“There’s also the Middle Park at Newmarket to think about later in the season so there’s a lot to look forward to. There’s been good money turned down for him, but the owners aren’t too keen to sell as they think the world of this horse – just like I do.”
Carroll will be hoping for compensation at Beverley today where he is due to saddle Mysterial and then stable stalwart Save The Bees. The latter, now nine, will be having his 90th career start – 11 of which have ended in victory – in the feature Skidby Handicap.