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.

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