The UK government's decision to replace the Horse Racing Levy with a mandatory contribution from all horse race betting operators has prompted Ladbrokes to sign its first horse racing sponsorship deal in years.

Ladbrokes Coral has signed a five-year deal with Newbury Racecourse which will see its Ladbrokes brand feature at 13 races over two days of winter jump meetings.

The two-day event takes place on December 1st and 2nd and is centred around a handicap chase formerly known as the Hennessy Gold Cup. The race is contested over three and a quarter miles and offers a prize pool of £250,000 for the 2017 edition, a 25 per cent increase on last year.

Total prize money for the entire event will increase by almost £100,000 to £700,000.

"The directors of Newbury are delighted to welcome Ladbrokes as sponsor of our most high profile and popular Jump meeting of the year, "Newbury Racecourse chairman Dominic Burke said.

"Ladbrokes has supported many races at Newbury over the years, and we are thrilled that Jim Mullen and his team share our ambition to take what is now a superb two-day race meeting to an even higher level, with both days being televised by ITV in 2017."

Since October 2015, sponsorship agreements between racecourses and betting operators have been restricted by the British Horseracing Authority's (BHA) preferred partner scheme. This required online betting operators to either agree to contribute to the Horse Racing Levy, or agree a commercial funding deal with the UK racing industry.

As Ladbrokes did not secure preferred partner status, it was effectively blocked from major racing sponsorship deals. However, since the government announced plans to replace the Levy with mandatory contributions from operators that take bets on UK racing, Ladbrokes is able to once again take advantage of sponsorship opportunities.

"The Newbury board's decision to partner with Ladbrokes as the new sponsor for this prestigious meeting was made in light of the government's commitment to replace the existing Levy scheme from April, 2017," Burke confirmed. "Given the government's position, our board felt that it could agree future sponsorship arrangements with any betting operator for race meetings taking place after that April date.

"We are looking forward enormously to working with the Ladbrokes team on this exciting new partnership, especially given their proven track record of success in elevating the profile of the major races that they have supported over the years," he added.

Ladbrokes Coral chief executive Jim Mullen said he was proud to have made a five-year commitment to sponsoring the event.

"Horseracing is a vital part of the heritage of our business, and we are passionate about maintaining our support of the sport," he explained. "We have committed to work in partnership with Newbury Racecourse to build the two days of this fixture into one of the most compelling attractions not just in the racing calendar, but in that of sport as a whole."

Shares in Ladbrokes Coral Group plc (Co. Data) (LSE:LCL) were trading down 1.43 per cent at 124.40 pence per share in London early Tuesday.

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