The Cheltenham Festival is considered by many to be one of the best horse racing meetings in the world, which is why sponsors are so keen to be associated with it. The more that they are able to get their name out there to the millions of people watching the races all around the world, the better it is for them. For Unibet, this has resulted in a regular sponsorship of the Champion Hurdle, which began in 2011 when the Stan James brand had the honour before Unibet came in in 2018.
Both have been part of the Kindred Group, hence the reason it is considered that it is essentially the same company that has been sponsoring the race. It isn’t the only race that Unibet has been involved in sponsoring over the years, with more than 2,000 bearing the company’s name at one point or another since it entered the UK market in 2013. Add that to sponsorship deals with the likes of Rangers and Middlesbrough and it’s easy to see that it is a company that takes its association with sporting events very seriously, all in order to win as many customers as possible.
Who Are Unibet?
Boasting more than 11 million customers worldwide, it is fair to say that Unibet is a decently sized sports betting, only casino, bingo and online poker brand operating in more than 100 countries. The business is part of the Kindred Group, which also operates the likes of Stan James and 32Red.
Headquartered in Malta, the company has a licence to operate through Platinum Gaming Limited. Unibet itself was founded in 1997 by Anders Ström, operating out of his Earls Court home. It was initially a telephone betting service, launching online the following year for internet betting.
In the years that followed, Unibet Group PLC expanded, taking in other companies such as Betchoice in Australia and Stan James Online in the United Kingdom. As part of a move in order to support a multi-brand strategy, Unibet relaunched as the Kindred Group in 2016. The likelihood is that you’ll have seen Unibet’s branding in numerous different locations, given the fact that over the years the business has sponsored the likes of the Philadelphia Eagles, Club Brugge and even five-time World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen, so it goes without saying that they’re a big name on the global stage.
Extending The Champion Hurdle Sponsorship
A company either owned by a bought by the Kindred Group has been involved in sponsoring the Champion Hurdle since 2011. That was when Stan James took on the sponsorship duties for the race, remaining in place until Unibet took over seven years later. Unibet’s sponsorship has obviously been seen as a successful one, given the fact that the company has now decided to extend it for another five years, taking its current deal up until 2028. Only three companies have sponsored it before, meaning that Unibet will be the most closely associated with it.
Ed Nicholson, the Head of Kindred Group Racing, spoke of the company’s ‘delight’ at signing a new long-term deal with the Jockey Club, believing that it gives the company the chance to demonstrate its commitment to the success of racing in the UK. He said,
“It is a huge honour to be associated with a race such as the Champion Hurdle and we are thrilled to be continuing our long-standing relationship with the Grade One feature. We are also looking forward to continuing the new-look Unibet Road to Cheltenham Series, including the new Unibet Hurdle, which will hopefully be a welcomed addition to Festival Trials Day at the end of January.”
This thought was seconded by Neil Banbury, Kindred Group’s Chief Commercial and Marketing Office, who said, “This agreement comes at a pivotal time for our sectors. Over the course of this new deal through to 2028, the landscape for betting and racing in the UK could look very different.”
This was a reference to the government’s white paper into gambling, which he acknowledged is causing friction in the industry. For Kindred Group, he said, the hope is that the company will continue to be involved in horse racing and supporting the sport for many years to come.
Ian Renton, the Managing Director of Jockey Club Racecourses, said, “Unibet and Kindred Group are longstanding supporters of The Cheltenham Festival and British racing more widely, and we are thrilled to be continuing our partnership with them for the next five years. We look forward to the Road to Cheltenham Series beginning once again in its new format across the 2023/24 season when the competition from both sides of the Irish sea looks as exciting as it ever has.”
That is a suggestion that, for the horse racing industry at least, this should be seen as good news.
Unibet & Sponsorship
Realistically, the main aim of betting companies is to get as many punters to sign up and place wagers with them as possible. One of the best ways that they can do this is thanks to brand recognition, which often comes for sports fans thanks to numerous different sponsorship deals. As a result, Unibet has long been involved in the likes of football, American football and other major sports. One of the biggest sports that Unibet has targeted over the years, though, is horse racing, with the following events included in the Unibet Road to Cheltenham series:
- Unibet Elite Hurdle at Wincanton in November
- Unibet Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham in November
- Unibet Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown in November
- Unibet International at Cheltenham in December
- The New One Unibet Hurdle at Haydock in January
- Unibet Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March
There are many other races besides that have been sponsored by Unibet over the years, including being the official sponsor of Kempton’s All Weather track, meaning that around 150 races a year are given support by the company.
It is unquestionably the Champion Hurdle that takes the crown, however, being one of the best races of the year.