Ballabriggs wins the Grand National at Aintree 09.04.2011

John Smith's have sponsored the Grand National meeting since 2005

  PICTURE: Getty  

John Smith's to end
National sponsorship

AINTREE will be looking for a new sponsor for the Grand National meeting after next year following John Smith's decision to drop the world's most famous race from its sponsorship portfolio.

John Smith's added the Grand National meeting to its list of race sponsorships, which include the John Smith's Cup at York, in 2005 during which time the meeting has blossomed with large crowds and the Grand National itself having prize-money increased to £975,000.

However, the 2013 Grand National meeting will be the final one under the brand, who had taken over from Martell, although the possibility of sponsoring at the meeting in the future was not ruled out.

Karen Crowley, John Smith's brand manager, said: "The Grand National has been one of the jewels in our UK sponsorship crown and the decision to end the title sponsorship was difficult to make.

"We've enjoyed nine exciting years as the title sponsor of jump racing's flagship event, during which time we have seen the John Smith's Grand National achieve record TV viewing figures and attendances.

"We will continue to be involved in racing through events such as the John Smith's Cup at York and the Northumberland Plate, both televised on Channel 4, and hope that we can find ways to continue being involved in the Grand National meeting in some capacity after 2013."

John Baker, Jockey Club Racecourse's regional director for the north, said that racing was "indebted" to the support of John Smith's.

He added: "We are in the process of finalising our sponsorship strategy to ensure the event remains one of the 'Crown Jewels' in the worldwide sporting calendar but our focus now is to ensure that in 2013 John Smith's are given a fitting farewell to the sponsorship of the Grand National."

As sporting sights go, few match the sheer excitement of 40 horses thundering towards the first fence at Aintree for the John Smith's Grand National.

A race steeped in history that always provides a story, the Grand National is the ultimate test of endurance and skill for both horse and jockey, as the pairing must navigate 30 treacherous fences, and then still have enough stamina to make a challenge on the run-in.

To manage a clear round in the 4m4f epic is no mean achievement, with the fences notoriously difficult and offering unique challenges.

Over the years, there have been countless memorable moments, Devon Loch's phantom leap in the 1956 contest, Foinavon's shock 100-1 win in 1967 and the brilliance of Red Rum, who took the chase on three occasions in 1973, 74 and 77.

In 1981 Aldaniti and Bob Champion completed a heartwarming tale when winning the race, as Aldaniti had recovered from a career-threatening injury while jockey Champion had battled back from cancer.

In 2011 the race provided another fairytale story as Donald McCain emulated his father and Aintree legend Ginger when winning with Ballabriggs - and that came just a year after champion jockey Tony McCoy finally gained victory in the race at the 15th time of asking.