Racing: Sponsorship deal for Johnson and Thornton

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The Independent Online
TWO OF the country's highflying young jump jockeys, Richard Johnson and Robert Thornton, will be among the first to take advantage of racing's new rules about sponsorship. The riders, both from the David Nicholson stable, have signed a deal with Toyota which will next month put the car manufacturer's name and logo on the side of their breeches and at the throat of the roll-neck shirt under their silks.

Personal sponsorship is commonplace in the majority of mainstream sports but racehorse owners - who are the jockeys' employers, by and large on a race-by-race basis - have resisted efforts by riders to acquire sponsorship of their own clothing.

It took nine years of negotiation between the Jockeys' Association and the sport's authorities before the go-ahead was given to the scheme last autumn. Carl Llewellyn was the first to make the breakthrough to becoming a mobile billboard when he last week announced an agreement with another car company, Docklands.

But earlier this month many owners decided not to participate in the scheme, a move which has dented efforts by the Jockeys' Association to find a global sponsor for its members.