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Blow for Cheltenham as Magners opts not to renew Gold Cup sponsorship

Sponsorship like that of Magners for this year's Cheltenham Gold Cup is vital to racing's future
Magners: took over sponsorship of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2019

Cheltenham has been dealt a fresh blow after Gold Cup sponsor Magners informed the course it will not be renewing its sponsorship of the contest after its initial contract ends next year.

Magners took over sponsorship of the biggest race at the Cheltenham Festival from Timico in 2019, in the process becoming the first official partner for the highlight of the jumps season with the meeting rebranded ‘The Festival, presented by Magners’.

The agreement was initially due to run for three years with the option for a further year, but the Irish-based cider company will exit after this season’s contest, due to be run on March 19.

A spokesperson for Cheltenham racecourse said: “Magners and Cheltenham entered into a partnership in 2018 which saw Magners secure the presenting partner and sponsorship rights for the 2019, 2020 and 2021 Cheltenham Festival and Cheltenham Gold Cup.

“Magners also had an option to extend these rights to 2022, which they will not be taking up. We understand and appreciate that the Covid-19 pandemic has implications for all businesses and sporting events.”

The hospitality sector has been brutally impacted by the coronavirus pandemic with pubs, bars, restaurants and sports facilities closed to patrons as part of government lockdown restrictions in Britain and Ireland.

Cheltenham: will feature on the free-to-air coverage in Ireland
Al Boum Photo: has won both of the Magners-sponsored Gold CupsCredit: Patrick McCann

A report last month by Lumina Intelligence found that £14 billion had been wiped off the value of the UK pub market as a result of the pandemic, while in a statement to investors in April, Magners owner C&C Group outlined that it would “reduce marketing and minimise discretionary spend” as a result of Covid-19.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup becomes the latest race for which Jockey Club Racecourses (JCR), which owns and operates Cheltenham, is seeking a sponsor after the RSA Insurance Group pulled out of backing the 3m Grade 1 novice chase at the festival.

A new sponsor is also being sought for the Derby meeting at Epsom, another JCR track, after Investec ended its sponsorship of the event.

Magners became just the fifth sponsor of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the contest’s history after Piper Champagne (1972-79), Tote & Totesport (1980-2011), Betfred (2012-2015) and Timico (2016-2018).

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Peter ScargillDeputy industry editor
Published on 1 December 2020Last updated 19:07, 1 December 2020