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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Project Manager - Birmingham - up to £40,000 - 12 month FTC

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Manager - Birmingham - ...

SThree: Recruitment Consultant - IT

£25000 - £30000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Sthree are looking fo...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin (based in London)

£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before