Speculation increases over future of Hennessy branding

Hennessy has sponsored the race since its inaugural running in 1957

PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos) Speculation increases over Hennessy branding
By James Burn 11:43AM 27 NOV 2016

TALKS to extend Hennessy's backing of Newbury's flagship contest are due to take place soon, officials at the track said, despite increasing speculation yesterday's race would be the last in its current guise.

The drinks brand has been associated with the course's
best-known race for 60 years, an association that makes it one of the most longstanding in the sport.

However, the deal is at an end and there has been much speculation it will not be extended.

Newbury's chief executive Julian Thick said: "This year is the final running of the current contract with Hennessy and we'll sit down and talk with them about the future."

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Should the Hennessy slot become available it would be a much sought-after one and rumours suggest Ladbrokes are poised to step into the breach.

The bookmakers are not aligned with British racing's authorised betting partner policy and have recently lost high-profile links with the World Hurdle and St Leger.

Those races are staged at tracks owned by Jockey Club Racecourses and Arc, which do not allow non-ABP firms to sponsor at their venues.

Newbury, however, has not entered into the agreement, so Ladbrokes, who would likely be keen to find a prestigious race to become attached to, would be in a position to come on board.

Any deal with Ladbrokes would inevitably make it impossible for bet365's wider support of the two-day meeting to continue.

The oldest sponsorships in sport

At 60, the Hennessy-Newbury link is one of sport's most enduring commercial links, but it is not the only example of sponsorship deals stretching into the decades.

Coca Cola has long been closely associated with the Olympics – it was, in fact, the 1928 Games in Amsterdam that marked their first partnership, and the soft drinks firm has sponsored every Olympics since.

The oldest team sponsorship in the world is believed to be that deal between car maker Ford and Aussie rules team Geelong Cats. The two parties first partnered in 1925 and, having signed a new five-year deal in 2015, will have hit 95 years when the current agreement ends in 2020.

The oldest link of any description might be the one between Slazenger and Wimbledon. Slazenger first supplied the tournament's tennis balls in 1902, 114 years ago, and the link has never been broken, with the firm itself calling it the "longest unbroken sports sponsorship in sporting history".

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