Grand National sponsor deal ends

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Grand National 2012 photo finish

Grand National 2012 photo finish

The Grand National is looking for new sponsors, after beer manufacturers John Smith’s decided not to renew its current deal after the 2013 meeting.

The Yorkshire-based brewery has backed the Aintree festival since 2005 and is currently the biggest commercial sponsor of horse-racing in the UK, but a 10% drop in the ale market has forced the company to make significant cutbacks.

Heineken, who took over John Smith’s in 2008, have already expressed a wish to explore other ways in which they can continue to be involved in the race weekend, outside headline sponsorship.

Speaking on behalf of John Smith’s, brand manager Karen Crowley said: “The Grand National has been one of the jewels in our UK sponsorship crown and the decision to end the title sponsorship was difficult to make.

“Working closely with the Aintree team, we’ve developed a number of innovative concepts which have helped return the race to the hearts and minds of the British public. We end our long association in the knowledge we have created a successful and significant sponsorship model that will serve Aintree and its new sponsors well in the future.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ur_hgbhX5gg&feature=fvwrel

The organisers at Aintree have had to deal with negative publicity following the deaths of two horses in each of the last two Grand Nationals.

Despite this, John Baker, Regional Director for Jockey Club Racecourses North, which is responsible for running Aintree, believes the decision was made for financial reasons. He said: “It’s very much a commercial decision. Obviously it’s a lot of money to sponsor such a big event. The team at Aintree and indeed the whole of racing are indebted for the fantastic support we’ve received from Heineken and the John Smith’s team.

“They have been instrumental in delivering exciting marketing initiatives and bringing the narrative of the Grand National to life. Throughout their time, through their invaluable contributions to the race meeting, we’ve seen prize money, attendances and viewing figures grow.”

He added: “We are in the process of finalising our sponsorship strategy to ensure the event remains one of the crown jewels in the worldwide sporting calendar but our focus now is to ensure that in 2013 John Smith’s are given a fitting farewell to the sponsorship of the Grand National.”

The 2013 John Smith’s Grand National meeting takes place at Aintree Racecourse over the first weekend in April.

About Joshua Killner, JMU Journalism