Expanding on a partnership that began almost a year ago, Virgin Bet will continue to sponsor the Ayr Gold Cup, Scotland’s premier horse racing competition. The online sports betting platform became the event’s sponsor in July of last year.
Bielsa, in the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup in 2021, as he was winning the race. The race has renewed its sponsorship agreement with Virgin Bet for another year. (Image: Yorkshire Post)
This sponsorship extension is part of a larger deal to keep the naming rights for the three-day Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup Festival at Ayr Racecourse. The event regularly draws a great deal of attention, and will run this year September 15 through 17.
ITV Racing will broadcast the Ayr Gold Cup live once again. The broadcaster’s coverage of the event reached 1.24 million viewers last year, with the flagship race receiving the highest amount at 632,000. This was a complete improvement over 2020, which saw no live attendance because of COVID-19.
Staying the Course
At a time when countries like the UK and others are frowning on sports betting sponsorships in sports, the Ayr Gold Cup won’t join the herd. Instead, Virgin Bet, which licenses the brand of the behemoth Virgin family, will sponsor eight additional races during the festival.
Among these are the Ayr Silver Cup and Doonside Cup Listed Races, as well as the Firth Of Clyde Stakes. In addition, Virgin bet will continue to support the Kilkerran Cup and the Ayr Bronze Cup.
Virgin earned the naming rights for the three-day Ayr Gold Cup Festival last year, which ran from September 16 through September 18. In that inaugural sponsorship, it backed the Ayr Silver Cup, the Firth of Clyde Stakes, and the Doonside Cup. The Kilkerran Cup and the Ayr Bronze Cup were also part of the arrangement then.
Success of 2021 Ayr Gold Cup
Bielsa was able to win the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup last year with a strong ride by Kevin Stott. He drew the highest position in stall 25, after the results of Friday’s Bronze Cup and Saturday’s Silver Cup suggested an unfavorable draw over the six-furlong sprint.
The majority of the field was split up as the gates opened. There were several horses racing along the track’s far side and another group going down the middle. However, Bielsa, at 15-2, chose his own path, right against the stands’ siderail.
That proved to be the correct choice. The 3-1 favorite Great Ambassador swept clear of his rivals in the final furlong. However, Bielsa galloped straight, and was two-and-a-quarter lengths clear at the post.
As excited as fans are to be back at the races at Ayr, they may be a little too enthusiastic. The track hosted the Scottish Grand National on April 2 and produced a number of complaints to the South Ayrshire Licensing Board.
As the Daily Record tells it, fans and bar staff were not on their best behavior. They damaged neighborhood property and urinated on residents’ lawns. In addition, bar staff didn’t check for IDs, according to licensing standards officer Catrina Andrew.
As a result, race fans can expect a different environment this September. There will be more controls in place, with stricter oversight of all of the activity.
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