John Smith's Extends National Sponsorship Until 2010
It was announced today that Scottish & Newcastle (owner of John Smith's) has extended its current agreement to sponsor the world's greatest steeple chase until 2010.
Charles Barnett, Managing Director of Aintree Racecourse said: "This is tremendous news for The National and jump racing as a whole. The original contract with John Smith's included the 2005, 2006 and 2007 meetings. This has now been extended until the 2010 renewal with an option for a further three years."
For John Smith's, Head of Public Relations and Sponsorship, Nigel Pollard said: "We entered our agreement in 2004 with great expectations; and we have been more than delighted with the results achieved so far. There was no doubt in our minds that a three year extension was the right move for John Smith's and that this new agreement will enable both parties to further develop the world's greatest steeplechase. An important part of this decision was the warmth, co-operation and business-like approach we have experienced with the team at Aintree - a vital ingredient in making this sponsorship work so well for the UK's favourite Ale."
Today's announcement coincided with Aintree's traditional media stable
visit to the previous National winning stable.
At Martin Brassil's Co. Kildare stables, the Trainer reported last year's winner to be in fine fettle. "The plan is to run Numbersixvalverde over hurdles at Leopardstown over the Christmas period. We may then consider the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup in mid February, again at Leopardstown, and then perhaps another outing over hurdles before Aintree."
Owner Bernard Carroll confirmed that he and his family were looking forward to returning to Aintree for another crack at the big one next April. "Owners dream of a National winner and when you are lucky enough to experience it, you realise nothing could ever have prepared you for the exhilaration and excitement, it is unbelievable."
MADDEN HEADS TO AINTREE FOR NORTH WEST MASTERS
John Smith's Grand National winning jockey, Niall Madden will head
to Aintree this weekend targeting another victory over the famous National
fences in only his second ever meeting at the course. Madden, who turned
21 on Saturday (11th November) will ride the Davy Fitzgerald trained
Pearly Jack in the £100,000 totesport.com
Becher Chase on day
two of the North
West Masters meeting (Sunday 19th November). Day one
of the North West Masters will take place at the nearby Haydock Park
Racecourse on Saturday 18th November.
Racing at Haydock Park will feature the three-mile Betfair Chase, which is the initial leg of the Betfair Million, jump racing's £1million bonus which involves winning the Betfair Chase followed by either the Stan James King V1 Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day or the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on December 28th, plus the totesport Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.
On Sunday, Aintree will stage two races over the National fences,
the £100,000 totesport.com Becher Chase and £60,000 totepool
Grand Sefton Steeplechase. The totesport.com Becher Chase, one of the
highlights of the jump season, is established as a stepping-stone to
the world's most famous Chase, the John Smith's Grand National.
MEETING PRIZE MONEY UP AGAIN
Once again, the total prize money for the John Smith's Grand National
meeting has risen, this year by £90,000 with £2,320,000
(3,480,000) to be won over the three-day meeting (April 12th - 14th
On Thursday, the John Smith's Anniversary 4YO Hurdle has increased
by £10,000 to £130,000 (195,000), whilst on Friday the
most significant uplift is the John Smith's Melling Steeple Chase which
receives a £50,000 boost to £200,000 (300,000).
Prize money on John Smith's Grand National day rises to £1,150,000
(1,725,000) with the John Smith's Maghull Novices' Steeple Chase over
2 miles increasing by £15,000 to £125,000 (187,500) and
the Scottish and Newcastle Aintree Hurdle up £10,000 to £160,000
It remains an ambition of Aintree Racecourse and Scottish & Newcastle
(owner of John Smith's) to increase the total prize fund of the John
Smith's Grand National to £1million during the course of the
sponsorship period. The John Smith's Grand National will again be the
5th race on the card and has a scheduled off time of 4.15 pm.
2007 JOHN SMITH'S GRAND NATIONAL NOW ON SALE
Tickets and corporate hospitality packages for the 2007 John Smith's
Grand National meeting have been on sale since August and Aintree is
predicting another bumper crowd when it opens its new facilities for
the 2007 showcase event.
"Sales for all enclosures, including Aintree's new grandstands,
the Earl of Derby and Lord Sefton stands have been exceptionally strong
on Ladies' Day (Friday) and Grand National Day. However, there is still
County Enclosure capacity available on all three days of the meeting.
With the finalisation of phase two of our redevelopment project, it's
going to be a very exciting three-day meeting and I advise racegoers
wanting to attend any day of the 2007 event to purchase in advance
to avoid disappointment," said Charles Barnett.
JOHN SMITH'S TOPHAM CHASE
The John Smith's Topham Chase, to be run over the National fences
on Friday 13th April, will change to an "early closing" race
in 2007. For many years Aintree has maintained a policy of 5-day entries
for all races other than the John Smith's Grand National. However,
the Topham Chase has developed into a highly competitive race in its
own right and will now be run as an open handicap with no rating band.
As is the case with the John Smith's Grand National, BHB Senior Jumps
Handicapper, Phil Smith, will frame a handicap specifically for the
"At this stage we intend to try this as a one year experiment
and obviously the four week gap between Cheltenham and Aintree will
help next year. We want a post Cheltenham early closing so the closing
date for this contest will be Wednesday 21st March 2007," said
RIDING QUALIFICATIONS AMENDED
In order to introduce some flexibility in respect of jockeys who may
have the necessary experience to ride in the John Smith's Grand National
(e.g. a jockey who has ridden a host of Point-to-Point winners or has
successfully competed over the National fences), but who may not have
ridden the 15 winners over hurdles and steeple chases as required by
the present race conditions, jockeys who have ridden 10 or more such
winners, may apply to the HRA by April 5th 2007. If, and only if, they
apply by this date and are deemed to have had the required level of
experience, dispensation to ride in the John Smith's Grand National
may be granted. It has however been stipulated that this dispensation
will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.
Malcolm Wallace, HRA Director of Regulation, said "We are introducing flexibility in order to strike the right balance so as not to eliminate somebody unnecessarily who may have the experience to take part in this unique test of horsemanship."
Once again, the successful breeders received their awards at today's
Representing the late Major F.B. Boyd, joint breeder and son J.G.
Boyd collected the award for breeder of the winning horse, Numbersixvalverde.
In addition, a similar award was made to Mr and Mrs R Crank, breeders
of the first British bred horse to finish, Forest Gunner; this being
the second consecutive year they have collected this prestigious prize.
An award was also presented to winning lad, Valentyn Gevelenko.
ARMFIELD WINS TIPSTER
The traditional John Smith's Grand National Meeting Top Tipster Award
was this year won by Julian Armfield, who attends the meeting on behalf
of the BBC World Service.
GRAND NATIONAL CHARITY BALL
Barnett also announced today that plans were underway for the staging
of "Sport Celebrates the Grand National", a charity ball
due to be held at the Landmark Hotel, London on Thursday 19th April
"The event will be backed by John Smith's and will raise vital funds for the Spinal Injuries Association and the Retraining of Racehorses. It promises to be a truly spectacular occasion," he said.
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