George Ward invested £25 million into race sponsorship in a 22-year periodPICTURE: Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos)
Prominent sponsor George Ward dies at 79
GEORGE WARD, one of racing's greatest sponsors, died on Monday at the age of 79 after a short illness.
Ward originally supported the Grunwick National Hunt Flat Race series and followed up sponsoring under the Bonusprint, Doubleprint and Tripleprint banners.
Over 22 years, Ward invested £25 million into race sponsorship and among the courses he supported were Ascot, Aintree, Cheltenham, Sandown, Goodwood, Newmarket, Epsom, Ayr, Windsor, Kempton, Haydock, Exeter, Bath and Punchestown.
Races he sponsored included the Bonusprint King George VI Chase at Kempton, the Tripleprint Gold Cup at Cheltenham in December, the Bonusprint Stayers Hurdle at the Festival, the Bonusprint Bula Hurdle, the Bonusprint Old Roan Chase and Haydock's Bonusprint Champion Hurdle. In addition Ward sponsored the All-Weather Championships at the Arena all weather tracks.
Some 20 years ago, alongside Bernard Gover, Ward took over and relaunched the Horseracing Sponsors Association which now thrives. As president, he spent many years developing the association which represents the interests of all British horseracing sponsors.
His friend Edward Gillespie, managing director at Cheltenham, said: "George was a great man, and a fascinating person to spend time with, but unfortunately he never quite achieved what he wanted to in racing because he was never allowed into the inner chambers (of the sport) and that was a big disappointment to him.
"We discussed it many times and George was only allowed to get so far because of who he was, because of his background, his relationship with government, his disappointment with Margaret Thatcher, the ranks sometimes closed against him, and it was very sad."
Outside of racing Ward sponsored such events as Categories at the ROA Awards dinner, the Stable Lads golf tournament and The Gatcombe Horse Trials.
Ward is survived by his wife Loretto and his two sons Anthony and Francis and their families.