NEW UK-based bookmaker BresBet is to sponsor one of greyhound racing’s most historic competitions The Easter Cup at Shelbourne Park, Dublin.
The Sheffield-based firm, which specialises in football, horse and greyhound racing, is backing the four-round 550-yard showpiece, which begins with heats on Saturday, February 19, and concludes with a €25,000-to-the-winner final on Saturday, March 12.
Commenting on the two-year deal announced today, BresBet managing director David Perry said: “We are delighted to be associated with such a famous and longstanding competition as The Easter Cup at such an incredible sporting venue as Shelbourne Park.
“This reaffirms our commitment in supporting top-class greyhound racing which saw us last year back two UK events with the BresBet East Anglian Derby at Yarmouth and BresBet Steel City Cup at Sheffield, which we hope to again support in 2022.
“The Easter Cup sponsorship is our first venture into Irish greyhound racing and we feel we have started at the very top! It has been an absolute pleasure to work on this with Greyhound Racing Ireland (GRI) and the Shelbourne Park management.
“We are proud as the UK’s newest bookmaker to support greyhound racing in this way. Horse racing is at the core of our business - we are brand sponsors for trainers Fergal O’Brien and Milton Harris - but our love of greyhound racing will ensure that BresBet will feature prominently across both sports in terms of partnerships and sponsorships.”
Dearbhla O’Brien, CEO of Greyhound Racing Ireland, said: “I am delighted to welcome BresBet on board as title sponsor of The Easter Cup.
“As the first ever Open event in our sport in Ireland, The Easter Cup has a history as long as track racing itself and has always attracted the very top names to the competition.
“Announcing a two-year sponsorship of The Easter Cup, BresBet are confirming their commitment to greyhound racing as they establish themselves as a key player in the market. All of the team at Greyhound Racing Ireland and Shelbourne Park look forward to developing the relationship with them as we work together to promote this great competition and our sport as a whole.”
First run at Shelbourne Park in 1928, previous winners of The Easter Cup include the legendary Spanish Battleship, the three-time Irish Derby winner, who won in 1954 and 1955, while Mick the Miller, himself a three-time English Derby winner, was runner-up in 1929.
Other Easter Cup winners include Indian Joe (1980), who won the English Derby at White City the same year, and another English Derby champion Farloe Melody, who successfully defended his Easter Cup title (1991/92) having won his Derby at Wimbledon in 1992.
Farloe Melody and Spanish Battleship are two of five dual winners of the Easter Cup, the others being the inaugural champion Odd Blade (1928/29), Astra (1945/46) and the hugely popular Late Late Show, who won back-to-back titles in 2001/02.
Late Late Show was trained by Paul Hennessy, a Cheltenham Festival-winning racehorse trainer with Heaven Help Us last year, but a multiple Derby-winning greyhound trainer. Hennessy has won the Easter Cup no fewer than seven times.
Hennessy said: “This is fantastic news that BresBet has stepped into sponsor The Easter Cup. The competition has an incredible history and we have been blessed to have won it a few times. It would be nice to think we could launch another challenge for the title this year.
“But either way, this is a great shot in the arm for Irish greyhound racing that a new and growing UK company, albeit one with close connections to the sport, has decided to support The Easter Cup in this way. It is always a brilliant and high-class competition.”
The Pat Buckley-trained Knocknaboul Syd was a superb winner of last year’s Easter Cup, the second for the trainer, while Graham Holland, who struck with Clona Blaze and Wolfe in 2019 and 2020, has won three of the last six runnings of the Classic.
Both are expected to again field strong challenges for the 2022 running of The BresBet Easter Cup, as will Owen McKenna, trainer of Susie Sapphire, last year’s Irish Greyhound Derby and Oaks champion, who has suggested his incredible bitch could make her seasonal bow in the heats.