Brewer to end Grand National title sponsorship

John Smith's is to end its Grand National sponsorship after next year's race.
John Smith’s is to end its Grand National sponsorship after next year’s race. © RacingKel

Brewer John Smith’s is ending its title sponsorship of the controversial Grand National race following the 2013 running of the challenging steeplechase.

It will be the Heineken-owned brand’s ninth year of sponsorship of the race at Aintree Racecourse.

Course officials said they were in the process of seeking a new title sponsor for the race from 2014.

Heineken has already expressed a wish to explore other ways in which it can continue to be involved in the race weekend in April, outside headline sponsorship.

Talks between the two parties will continue over the coming months.

John Smith’s, brand manager Karen Crowley said the Grand National had been “one of the jewels in our UK sponsorship crown” and the decision to end the title sponsorship was difficult.

She described it a successful and significant sponsorship model, but said: “We felt that now was the right time to move on, reflecting changes in the ale market and the development of the John Smith’s brand.”

John Smith’s would continue with other race sponsorship, she said.

The regional director for Jockey Club Racecourses North, responsible for running Aintree, said: “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.”

Animal advocates have long been critical of the race, arguing the number of deaths and falls over the tough course amounts to animal cruelty.

Two horses have died in each the last two Grand Nationals.

Thirty-three horses have died in the race since 1973.

It is understood John Smith’s has spent up to £20 million on the title sponsorship and related marketing since 2005.

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