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John Smith's takes over as sponsor of Grand National

LONDON - John Smith's has signed a three-year multimillion-pound deal to become the official sponsor of the UK's premier horse race, the Grand National.

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Being sponsored by a beer that bills itself as "no nonsense" is a shift for the Grand National, which saw its 13-year deal with cognac brand Martell come to an end in 2004.

However, John Smith's, which is owned by Scottish & Newcastle, said that it would fit well with its other horseracing sponsorships, including the John Smith's Cup at York and the John Smith's Stakes at Newbury. It has a long history with the sport, dating back to 1959.

The race is to be named The John Smith's Grand National starting next year, through until 2007. The brand has the option to extend for a further three years after that.

Tim Seager, marketing director of Scottish & Newcastle, said: "The simple fact is that John Smith's drinkers love their racing and there's a perfect fit between the Grand National and the 'No Nonsense Pint'."

He added that the agreement means much more than simply attaching the John Smith's logo to the event.

"We have made a long-term commitment that will see the John Smith's Grand National, and racing in general, brought to life in pubs, clubs, supermarkets and off-licences, in a way that other brands have done with football."

John Smith's is still riding high on its much-loved advertising campaign starring Peter Kay and created by TBWA\London. The ale brand is the biggest in the UK and sells more than 1m pints a day.

The next Grand National meeting takes place from April 7 to April 9 2005. The Grand National is broadcast in more than 140 countries with an estimated audience of 600m viewers worldwide.

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