Stop shooting down the horses

Your piece on sponsorship in horseracing (MW November 13) incorrectly implies that the horseracing industry is falling short in attracting sponsorship support. The article is alarmist and misguided and makes assumptions which are far wide of the mark.

It was indeed unfortunate that the announcements of Martell’s withdrawal from the Grand National after the 2004 race and Attheraces’ ending of its association with Sandown Park occurred in the same week. They were totally unrelated and in no way support the view that horseracing is unable to attract major sponsorship investment.

It should be remembered that the deal with Martell, originally owned by Seagram Distillers, was part of a 20-year commitment which began in 1984. That is a remarkable length of time to sponsor of any event and it has been acknowledged as one of the most effective sporting sponsorship partnerships of all time. Aintree had anticipated that the contract may not be renewed and plans are well advanced for the conclusion of a new sponsorship deal for what has become one of the hottest properties in sport.

The Attheraces negotiations were quite different: a long-term arrangement had never been anticipated. The company’s contribution over the past two years has been absolutely invaluable to the industry.

The article also – incorrectly – links the future disbanding of the Horserace Betting Levy Board and the privatisation of the Tote with the need for sponsorship income. These issues are unrelated and to link them shows a misunderstanding of the infrastructure of the industry.

The fact is that sponsorship in racing is buoyant – with a total contribution of over £18m, it represents almost a fifth of the prize money in UK racing. The organisations concerned with sponsorship within racing, linked to individual racecourse management teams, are between them in a strong position to sell the value of racing as a sponsorship medium.

BHB marketing director Chris John is extremely purposeful in his intent to attract more blue-chip companies to the sport, and those of us involved are confident that this will be achieved.

I have no doubt that the extraordinary media advantages horseracing can offer sponsors will continue to enable the sport to attract new investors. While it is true that racing is in limbo pending findings by the Office of Fair Trading, it is also true that many organisations, big and small, look upon racing, with its unique hospitality opportunities, as a highly effective marketing tool.

Nigel Payne

Chief executive

Horseracing Sponsors Association



Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here