Epsom's sponsors go off-message

It is a sign of the times, and a deeply worrying one for the horseracing industry, that Epsom, having failed to find a backer for this year's Derby meeting, has been forced for the first time to divide up the races at the meeting to make them more appealing, and affordable, for sponsorship.

There have been only two sponsors of the premier Classic, Ever Ready and Vodafone, with the latter's association with the race being extended to a 14th year last summer in order to fill the breach for one final time after first Emirates Airlines and then four other multinational companies which the course had been courting all dropped out. And that was before the global financial crisis really began to bite.

Nick Blofeld, the managing director of Epsom, said yesterday: "It has obviously been, and continues to be, a difficult time to find a title sponsor for the two days of the 2009 Derby Festival. A number of parties have shown great interest in the title sponsorship but have had to withdraw from latter-stage negotiations due to the on-going economic uncertainty."

Epsom are also nearing completion of a £38m redevelopment and their new grandstand will be opened at the spring meeting on on 22 April.

A brighter sign of the times for racecourses is that Ascot will be turned pink tomorrow as Betfair celebrate the start of their new relationship with the course with a variety of attractions in the appropriate hue for St Valentine's Day. The connection, and one not lost on the marketing department of the betting exchange, has given the day the theme "the perfect match".

The main message though, one rather more important for the health of racing than any to be found in tomorrow's personal columns, is that the one company that is really thriving even in these straitened times is prepared to put plenty of money back into the sport. The firm announced a seven-figure, five-year deal with the racecourse in December – the centrepiece of which is their sponsorship of the now-£1m King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

The new link has, however, turned one body, the racecourse bookmakers, red with rage as Betfair's deal includes the introduction of "betting suites" at the track in which punters will be able to log in and bet on their site. With the betting rings of racecourses already showing a disastrous fall-off in business, unsurprisingly, the layers feel rather threatened by this development.

The sponsors have hardly been rewarded with a decent turnout for tomorrow's 2m 5f Grade One Betfair Ascot Chase. Only five horses have been declared, and one of those, The Sawyer, ran unsuccessfully at Chepstow yesterday. There is likely to be an outstanding horse gracing the winner's enclosure, however, as the field is headed by Voy Por Ustedes, running at what is probably his optimum trip.

Paul Nicholls, who took the race last year with Kauto Star, looks to Gwanako for victory, while David Pipe, fresh from his triumph with Madison Du Berlais over Nicholls-trained Denman last weekend, saddles Tamarinbleu.

Nigel Twiston-Davies's Knowhere is likely to complete the line-up and the trainer will have been relieved by his return to the winner's podium thanks to Little Josh at Chepstow yesterday.

Betting on the sponsor's site last night showed 11-10 Voy Por Ustedes, 7-2 Tamarinbleu and Gwanako, 8-1 Knowhere, 20-1 The Sawyer.

Desert Party was a smooth winner of the UAE 2,000 Guineas at Nad Al Sheba last night to complete a treble for Frankie Dettori. The winner's stablemate Vineyard Haven, one of the Kentucky Derby favourites, ran too freely in the early stages and was a spent force before the home straight.

The conditional jockey Paul Callaghan has been suspended for 45 days in the wake of his ride on Hickory Lane at Musselburgh last month when the horse was pulled up.

Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect