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[an error occurred while processing this directive] banner Wednesday, 19 December, 2001, 11:47 GMT
Whitbread ends Sandown link
Ruby Walsh and Ad Hoc on course to victory at the 2001 Whitbread Gold Cup
Ruby Walsh and Ad Hoc won the 2001 Whitbread Gold Cup
The first, and longest running, commercial sponsorship in British sport has ended with Whitbread foregoing their deal with horse racing's last major handicap chase of the season, the Gold Cup.

The Whitbread Gold Cup, horse racing's second most valuable handicap chase after the Grand National, is to be renamed the Attheraces Gold Cup.

Sponsorship of Sandown Park's celebrated Finale meeting in April, and the big race, is the showpiece event in a new 2m deal between Attheraces and Britain's "Super 12" racecourses.

  Super 12 racecourses
Haydock Park
Kempton Park
Sandown Park

The initiative marks the end of a 44-year association between Sandown and Whitbread.

"We now feel this is the right time to take a step back and allow new blood to come in," Whitbread's chief executive, David Thomas, said.

The fixture, which will carry 395,000 in added prize money, is a continuation of last year's replacement "championship" races, which were staged after the cancellation of the Cheltenham Festival.

"The involvement of Attheraces means that we will reinvigorate the product. It underpins our decision to enhance the dual-code meeting," managing director of United Racecourses, Sue Ellen, confirmed.

The Attheraces consortium, made up of Channel 4, BSkyB and Arena Leisure, secured the rights to 49 British racecourses for 307m earlier in the year.

The contract with Sandown will now ensure an even higher level of branding and exposure for Attheraces at Britain's 12 elite racecourses until January 2003.

By taking part in the programme, Ascot's Royal meeting will feature sponsorship for the first time next year.

Although the races will not be sponsored, branding will appear on the stalls and hoardings around the course.

See also:

05 Dec 01 |  Horse Racing
Jockeys seek slice of rights pie
19 Nov 01 |  Other Sports
BBC seals global racing deal
28 Apr 01 |  Other Sports
Ad Hoc claims Whitbread
03 Apr 01 |  Other Sports
Sandown set for showpiece event
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