Irish Champions Weekend 'good to go' with other sponsors despite loss of Qipco
The line-up of race sponsors at Irish Champions Weekend is expected to remain unscathed after the loss of Qipco, whch ended its backing of the Irish Champion Stakes at the two-day extravaganza in September.
Having come aboard for the inaugural meeting in 2014, Qipco had become synonymous with what has been an immensely successful concept.
The Qatar-based enterprise's decision to discontinue its sponsorship of the €1.25 million Group 1 means the showpiece event is without a sponsor for 2020, but Ballyhane Stud's Joe Foley, one of Irish Champions Weekend's founders and still a committee member, believe the various other sponsorships are "good to go".
“The most important thing is to get the meeting to take place, whether it is behind closed doors or not, and at the moment I am not aware of any issues with any other sponsors," Foley said on Tuesday.
"We are good to go with everybody else. We have regular meetings of the Irish Champions Weekend committee, and both tracks have been in touch with each individual sponsor and will continue to do so. I'm involved with the EBF, we sponsor four races over that weekend and indeed the plan is to increase our contribution to Irish racing in order to get us over this tricky period.”
He added: “I think Irish Champions Weekend has shone a light on races like the Irish Champion Stakes which it possibly did not have to the same extent before and is now established as a big, big race.
"Indeed, two years ago I think it was the second-highest rated race in the world. It has always been an important and stallion-making race but given where we are with coronavirus it is going to be difficult to find a sponsor for 2020.”
Foley paid tribute to Sheikh Fahad Al-Thani's six-year sponsorship of the Irish Champion Stakes, commenting: “It was very kind of the Sheikh and his team to sponsor the race for as long as he did. He put in a considerable amount of money and he was very keen to sponsor Irish racing and indeed the concept of Irish Champions Weekend.
"He kindly sponsored for an initial three-year contract which he then renewed, but as he said himself it was never going to be a long-term thing. We will be forever grateful with how he grasped what we were trying to do with Irish Champions Weekend as a showcase for Irish racing. It gave us a big boost when a big name like Qipco came in.”
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