Jockey Club seeking new July Cup backer after Darley ends 26-year sponsorship of Group 1 sprint

Rob Hornby stand up to celebrate Alcohol Free's July Cup victory over Naval Crown
Alcohol Free: successful in the Darley July Cup last yearCredit: Edward Whitaker

The Jockey Club, without a sponsor for one of its flagship events until Betfred recently came on board to support the Derby, is on the lookout for a backer for the July Cup after its enduring link with Darley came to an end.

Arguably the world's most prestigious sprint, the July Cup had since 1996 been staged under the banner of Darley, the stallion arm of Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin organisation.

A who's who of world-class speedsters decorates the race's rich roll of honour and Oasis Dream, Limato and Harry Angel are among those to have been successful at Newmarket before ending up as champion sprinters.

Entries for the July Cup, which this year is held on July 15, were revealed on Tuesday, but the Darley name was not in the race title.

The three-day Newmarket meeting, which starts two days before the July Cup takes place, has a new partner in Boodles, the luxury jewellery brand that sponsors the Cheltenham Gold Cup – another blue-chip race in the Jockey Club's portfolio – but the search for a firm to support the £600,000 Group 1 is well and truly on.

A spokesperson for the Jockey Club said: "We're really looking forward to the Boodles July festival and, with a new naming partner secured, we've been discussing sponsoring the July Cup with a number of interested parties.

"The race remains available as things stand today and we'd be happy to hear from organisations who would be keen to have their brand associated with one of Europe's premier sprint races.

"Our thanks go to Darley for their support and we're delighted to be continuing to work with them at the Dubai Future Champions Festival and through their support of the novice and maiden programme."

Limato: won the July Cup in 2016
Limato: won the July Cup in 2016Credit: Mark Cranham

Darley helped finance a maiden fillies' race at Windsor on Monday night, which was worth £20,616 to the winner and an example of it diversifying its strategy.

A similar contest, with £25,770 to the winner, was part of Newmarket's bill on Saturday, while the Ralph Beckett-trained Artistic Star landed a £50,000 Darley-sponsored novice at Sandown last week.

"The July Cup has been a fantastic race, but we've just diverted into development races," Darley director Sam Bullard said. "We're having a change and the BHA was keen to get some support for its development races, a series of which we're sponsoring."

In April, Betfred came on board to sponsor next week's Derby and Oaks in a three-year deal, replacing used car company Cazoo and becoming the first bookmaker to sponsor the Epsom Classics.

At the time, Nevin Truesdale, the chief executive of the Jockey Club, hailed the deal, saying he was "absolutely delighted" to be working with the layer, which this month also agreed to sponsor the St Leger, the world's oldest Classic that headlines at Doncaster in September.

The other features on July Cup day – the Bunbury Cup and Superlative Stakes – are backed by bet365, which also sponsors three other heritage handicaps at the meeting.

Its other Group 1, the Falmouth Stakes, is staged in association with bloodstock sales company Tattersalls.

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James BurnLambourn correspondent
Published on 23 May 2023Last updated 20:04, 23 May 2023