Grand National to be sponsored by Crabbie's ginger beer

A horse ridden by Samantha Drake jumps the water during the first day of the 2013 Grand National meet Crabbie's will sponsor three races across the Grand National meeting

Ginger-beer maker Crabbie's has been named new sponsor of the Grand National and race festival for three years.

The deal will see the famous Aintree steeplechase run for a £1m purse for the first time.

Race organisers the Jockey Club say the deal will allow the firm to reach a potential UK terrestrial TV audience of about nine million and an estimated 600 million people worldwide.

They replace beer brand John Smith's, the race's backers from 2005 to 2013.

The only other sponsors of the race have been distiller Seagram and its then-subsidiary Martell.

The £1m prize money compares with prize money of £550,000 for the 2013 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, considered the most prestigious race of the UK jump season..

'Global reach'

Crabbie's will receive naming rights for the three races during the Grand National meeting: the Crabbie's Fox Hunters' Chase, the Crabbie's Topham Chase and the Crabbie's Grand National.

Analysis

This has to be seen as a significant success for Aintree officials.

Sceptics had feared that with recent negative headlines about the deaths of horses in the Grand Nationals of 2011 and 2012, plus the economic climate, finding a replacement for John Smith's might be hard.

They'd have got a bookmaker OK, but for the credibility of the race, and indeed of racing, they needed to get a big or biggish, non-betting brand to offer the sometimes controversial event its support.

And, of course, a Ginger, this time beer and wine rather than a McCain, has come to aid of the famous race.

It also gets sponsorship category exclusivity for ginger beer and cider products for the festival for the duration of the contract, which initially runs through until the completion of the 2016 event.

Other Crabbie's sponsorship programmes to date include the National Television Awards, the British Comedy Awards, the Scottish Open and Hibernian football club in Edinburgh.

"The Grand National is a unique race with massive global reach and represents a perfect partnership for Crabbie's and our UK and international ambitions," said Peter Eaton, deputy chairman of Halewood International, which owns the brand.

Halewood International owned the horse Amberleigh House, which won the 2004 Grand National.

Next year's Grand National meeting will be held from Thursday 3 April to Saturday 5 April 2014.

The 2013 race was the first time in 166 runnings of the Grand National that the entire field was in contention up to the Canal Turn, the eighth fence. The race was won by the 66-1 chance Auroras Encore,

Before this year's race, there had been two fatalities in each of the previous two runnings of the race, leading to the changes in the fences, which now have a core made of flexible plastic, rather than wood.

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