The deal has elements of continuity about it, but comes round full circle in others. There were fears that when John Smith’s ended their nine-year association with the race, finding another commercial sponsor for the race would be difficult. Now, drinks company Crabbie’s have signed a three year deal to sponsor the National, and along with it, races which will become the Crabbie’s Foxhunters’ Chase and the Crabbie’s Topham Chase.
The company becomes the fourth successive drinks business to sponsor the race, following in the footsteps of Seagram, Martell and John Smith’s.
According to Peter Eaton, the deputy chairman of Crabbie’s parent company, Merseyside based Halewood International, it’s a race they have long wanted to hook up to. He said, “It has always been the family’s ambition to sponsor the Grand National and we are very excited to have this opportunity. With the joint partnership of Crabbie’s, Aintree and the Jockey Club, it’s our aim to take the Grand National to another level.”
The reason for Halewood International’s particular interest in the National stems from an earlier connection with the race. The founder of the company, the late John Halewood, owned the 2004 Grand National winner, Amberleigh House, trained by Ginger McCain.
John Baker, regional director of Jockey Club Racecourses in the North West, summed things up nicely. After expressing his delight at the deal he added, “These are exciting times for all concerned.”