UK’S world-famous Grand National gets new title sponsor for first £1m rafe
The Grand National, horse racing’s most celebrated steeplechase, which is held at Aintree in the UK, has secured a new title sponsor after Crabbie’s, the alcoholic ginger beer producer, signed up in a three-year deal.
Under the agreement announced in the final weeN of August, Crabbie’s will taNe on the title sponsorship rights for the Grand National and the Grand National Festival in 2014, replacing beer brand John Smith’s, which decided not to renew a deal that expired after this year’s event, ending a relationship that dated back to 2005.
The Jockey Club, the horse racing venue owner whose portfolio includes Aintree, has brought in Crabbie’s with total prize money for the Grand National set to hit £1 million ($1.55 million) for the first time next year, and the company will give its name to two other races at the festival and have exclusivity in the categories of ginger beer and cider until 2016.
Crabbie’s is by no means new to horse racing having sponsored various lower-level races and sold products at all 15 of the Jockey Club’s venues. John Halewood, the late founder of the company’s backer Halewood International, owned Amberleigh House, the winner of the 2004 Grand National, which was trained by legendary trainer Ginger McCain.
Crabbie’s has also been a sponsor of golf’s Scottish Open and Scottish Premier League soccer club Hibernian and will use its tie-up with the Grand National to help raise its profile in the UK and across the world.
Earlier this year, The Jockey Club appointed Phar Partnerships, the international sponsorship agency, to help secure a new title sponsor for the Grand National. This came on the back of the withdrawal of John Smith’s and with live UK television coverage of the race having switched from the BBC, the publicservice broadcaster, to Channel 4 under an all-encompassing deal for British horse racing with the commercial network.
Doubts had also been expressed in some circles over the commercial appeal of the Grand National following the deaths of several horses, which prompted changes to the notorious Aintree fences and a much improved safety record in 2013.
The move to Channel 4 was expected to have a negative impact on viewing figures although the organisers were pleased with the UK audience of 8.9 million for this year’s Grand National and the global audience estimated at 600 million.
The 2014 Grand National Festival takes place on April 3 to 5 and is expected to attract around 150,000 spectators to Aintree.