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Sky Bet and the Cheltenham Festival agreed a sponsorship deal

Sky Bet, the online gaming subsidiary of UK pay-television broadcaster BSkyB, has agreed a deal to sponsor the opening race of the next five editions of the Cheltenham Festival horse racing event.

Under the five-year deal, the first race of the annual event will be known as the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

The deal is Sky Bet’s first major sponsorship involvement at the Cheltenham Festival.

In addition, Sky Bet will also sponsor two Grade Two Novices’ Hurdles on ‘The Road to Cheltenham’ a series of races leading up to the Festival.

The Sky Bet Novices’ Hurdle will take place at Cheltenham on November 17, 2013, while the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Trial Hurdle will be hosted at Haydock Park on January 19, 2014.

“This is the company's first major sponsorship at Cheltenham and to position it with such a prominent race in the Supreme Novices' is great,” Cheltenham Racecourse’s head of sponsorship, Peter McNeile, said.

“Like a lot of the championship races that are run at the Festival, we have built the deal around some of the races that lead to the Supreme Novices', which will help to drive the narrative of the sponsorship.”

Michael Shinners, Sky Bet’s horseracing PR manager, added: “Being the first race of the most eagerly-awaited meeting of the season means it has a special place in the hearts of racing fans.

“It is a fantastic championship race and has been a stepping stone to greatness for many horses over the years.”