WellChild is a national charity based in Cheltenham, England, focusing on in-home care for seriously ill children. WellChild’s projected income decreased by 60% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Compounding the financial shortfall, the threat of COVID-19 to in-home caregivers and a surge in demand from families needing such care for their children were devastating.

Also owing to the pandemic, corporate sponsors of sporting events and the arts curtailed or eliminated their participation, at least temporarily.  Magners, which had sponsored the prestigious Cheltenham Gold Cup jump race in 2019 and 2020, in December 2020 declined to renew in 2021 even though the company had originally agreed to a 3-year partnership.  (Magners is an Irish cider brand.)

The Jockey Club of Britain owns and operates the Cheltenham Racecourse and the four-day Cheltenham Festival, which cards top-flight races. After losing the Magners sponsorship so close to the 2021 Festival, the Jockey Club took up the cause of improving WellChild’s financial position. As a result, the entire Festival for 2021 is now The Festival Supporting WellChild. Moreover, on March 19, 2021, the feature race of the entire event will be run as the WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The objective is to foster awareness of WellChild and to raise money for its noble cause.  While the Cheltenham races will not have spectators, they will be watched by several million people on ITV Racing, both on television and online streaming.

Colin Dyer, CEO of WellChild, commented:

“This has been a challenging year for our organization and the families we support, many of whom have felt hidden and isolated more than ever before. However, we have responded at every turn to ensure that families have access to the support and equipment they need to thrive at home.  This partnership will bring a much-needed boost to our organization after a challenging period and will help to ensure that we are ready to respond again in 2021 and beyond.”

Sir Anthony McCoy, who won the Gold Cup twice, said: “What WellChild does is just so important and I’m really pleased that the best four days in our sport are being put forward to help.  Racing is a charitable sport, full of generous people and I’m sure they’ll get right behind this.”

The Jockey Club turned a very bad situation for itself (losing a title sponsor and running a Festival without fans) into an opportunity to give a much-needed boost to an organization that so many struggling families depend on.

Well done!

Horse Racing Business 2021