SBC News Unibet, Jockey Club and BHA enhance opportunities for ‘quality 10-year-old-plus chasers’

Unibet, Jockey Club and BHA enhance opportunities for ‘quality 10-year-old-plus chasers’

Unibet, collaborating with the Jockey Club and British Horseracing Authority (BHA), is launching a new middle-distance veterans’ chase series for 10, 11 and 12-year-olds over two miles and four furlongs.

Branded as the Unibet Middle Distance Veterans’ Series, the Kindred Group-owned operator and its partners outlined that the initiative was created to generate more opportunities for ‘quality 10-year-old-plus chasers’ – who may have found winning chances limited in other races.

Ed Nicholson, Head of Kindred Group racing, said: “We are delighted to sign another new long-term deal with the Jockey Club and further showcase Unibet’s commitment to UK horse racing. 

“Veterans’ Chases are extremely popular and often attract competitive fields. Following the success of the Unibet Veterans’ Chase Final run over three miles at Sandown in January, sponsored by Unibet since 2018, we thought there was a need for a similar series over a shorter trip, so approached the Jockey Club to see what we could come up with.”

The five-year deal will launch throughout the 2023/24 jump racing season, with six races followed by a series finale which will take place at Haydock on the 30 March 2024. Meanwhile, the 2024 finale will not require horses to have run in previous races in the series.

However, the Jockey Club will fund a £10,000 bonus for any horse that wins the finale, if they have also won another race in the series earlier in the season.

“It is always exciting to see much-loved older horses competing for good prize money. Hopefully the series will help persuade owners to keep some of the legends of our sport in the game for a little longer,” continued Nicholson.

“I personally spoke to several high-profile owners and trainers during the research stage explaining our idea and received extremely positive feedback, which was enormously pleasing.”

The opening race of the series is set to take place at Kempton on 13 November 2023, before heading to Cheltenham for their Christmas meeting on 15 December. Four of the races currently scheduled throughout the 2023/24 campaign will be shown live on ITV.

Meanwhile, Nicholson highlighted that the agreement comes at a pivotal time for the sectors. 

“Over the course of this new deal through to 2028, the landscape for betting and racing in the UK could look very different,” he explained. “We fully understand the concerns currently being raised by many in the racing sector about the potential friction caused by some of the white paper consultations for millions of everyday racing punters. 

“We are keen to continue being a partner to the sport we love and are committed to continue investing in and supporting it in the coming years.”

Looking further ahead, from the start of the 2024/25 season, the series will become an eleven-race series with ten qualifiers and a final for horses who have entered and ran in that season’s series. 

The opening race of the series will take place at Market Rasen on 20 July next year, with the final again taking place at Haydock on 8 April 2025, and six of the eleven races will also be shown live on ITV.

Since its UK market entry back in 2013, the Unibet brand has sponsored more than 2,000 races. The operator also recently inked a deal to continue its sponsorship of the Unibet Champion Hurdle, along with other two-mile hurdle races, for the next five years.

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