A meeting of minds: former Cheltenham boss praises Gold Cup link-up with Magners
Former Cheltenham chief Edward Gillespie described Magners’ sponsorship of the Gold Cup as the perfect match after the firm behind the cider drink signed a four-year agreement with Jockey Club Racecourses.
Magners Irish Cider has also become the presenting partner for the Cheltenham Festival, which will be officially named ‘The Festival, presented by Magners’.
However, prize-money for the feature race, considered the highlight of the jump racing calendar, will remain at £625,000, having increased from £575,000 last season.
Gillespie, who was managing director at Cheltenham for 32 years, said: “With an Irish company sponsoring the Gold Cup, the core values of the festival are being preserved and it looks like a meeting of minds.
“One of racing’s objectives is to have partnerships with high-street brands, as well as those in the supply chain such as gaming and betting companies, as it’s important to have a balance.
“In order to remain as attractive as it has in the last 60 years, racing must keep moving forward to encourage major investment and better prize-money.
“It’s great from Cheltenham’s point of view that they’ve attracted such a well-known brand, with the Irishness being a bonus, and I hope it lasts for many years – the Irish winning their own money back is even sweeter for them!”
The Cheltenham Festival attracts more than 260,000 racegoers annually and is the fourth biggest sporting event in Britain for attendance.
Jason Ash, chief marketing officer of C&C Group plc, the manufacturer and marketer of Magners, said: “We're truly excited to put our name to the most prestigious jump race in Europe and partner with one of the UK's best sporting and social occasions as a platform to engage fans and bring Magners to a global audience.
“We see our partnership with the festival and the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup as a perfect fit, providing a year-round platform to bring to life our new '100 per cent Irish' positioning to consumers in the UK and internationally.
“We look forward to working with the Jockey Club to engage horseracing fans across multiple platforms, including at the festival, in the on and off-trades, and via advertising, digital and social activation."
Internet service provider Timico has sponsored the Cheltenham Gold Cup since 2015, with its four-year agreement coming to an end in March.
Betfred, totesport and Tote are other recent sponsors of the Gold Cup, and Magners, known as Bulmers in Ireland, is not the first alcoholic drink sponsor of the race as Piper Champagne became the inaugural backer in 1972.
Piper Champagne sponsored the race for eight years, while more recently Crabbie's sponsored the Grand National and Aintree meeting for three years.
The John Smith’s Cup at York is the longest current commercial sponsorship in British horseracing after the Hennessy Gold Cup became the Ladbrokes Trophy last year.
Ian Renton, Cheltenham and south-west regional director for Jockey Club Racecourses, said: “To work with Magners over the next four years is something our whole team is hugely looking forward to. I believe this partnership, with a brand of provenance and heritage like Magners, will provide a big opportunity for both parties.
“In the build-up to the festival each year, a third of the tickets purchased are by Irish racegoers, so we feel this partnership is a great fit and we're delighted to be working alongside a partner with such a strong Irish heritage and appeal in the UK, Ireland and beyond.”
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