When it was announced in 2017 that Randox Health would be the new sponsor of the Grand National, it was met with surprise by many within the sport.
It was the first time since 1984 that it hadn’t been sponsored by an alcoholic beverage brand!
In December 2020, it was revealed that the firm had agreed to extend their sponsorship agreement, and so after their current deal ends in 2021 they will then serve again as principal sponsor until 2026.
Randox will lend their name to the Grand National itself, plus two other key feature races at the Aintree meeting – the Foxhunters Chase and the Topham Chase.
Who are Randox Health?
Even though the name might not ring any bells, Randox Health has been an integral part of the UK’s fight during the 2020/21 health crisis – they developed their own testing kits, and tens of thousands of these were used at the height of the disaster.
Aside from that, Randox is a provider of worldwide healthcare services, offering rapid testing and diagnostic tools in the fight against heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, stroke and some forms of cancer.
Who Has Sponsored the Grand National?
Aside from Randox, there has been a particularly boozy feel to Grand National sponsorship in the past.
Grand National Sponsors – 1984 to 2021
|Year From||Year To||Sponsor||Brand Type||Races|
The ginger beer producer was in the sponsorship hotseat for three editions of the famous steeplechase.
Crabbie’s oversaw a landmark moment in Grand National history – in 2014, they upped the total prize pool to £1 million, and that was the first time the kitty had reached the seven figure mark.
But Halewood Wines and Spirits, who produce the brand and who are located a stone’s throw from Aintree, posted huge losses in 2015 and decided to pull the plug on their sponsorship. They were replaced by Randox Health.
John Smith’s (2005-2013)
The famous bitter brand has often dipped its toe into sports sponsorship, and in 2005 they splashed the cash to secure the rights to the Grand National for what would become an eight-year partnership.
In their first year as sponsor, the prize pool was kept fairly consistent at £700,000, but by their final term John Smith’s had upped the kitty to £975,000 – with the winner banking connections a rather handsome £575,000.
However, a brutal edition of the Grand National in 2012, which left two horses having to be put down, the brewer decided to pull out of sponsoring the race due to the negative press that brought.
The longest serving title sponsor in the history of the race, this cognac brand was actually owned by Seagram, the previous incumbent.
However, a £4.5 million deal was struck that would see the Grand National prefixed with the Martell name, and it was a contract that would remain in place for more than a decade.
In their maiden sponsored edition, the connections of winner Party Politics trousered less than £100,000 for their efforts, but by 2014 – Martell’s final Grand National – the ownership team of Amberleigh House left Merseyside £348,000 richer from a total prize pot of £600,000.
Amazingly, given how popular the race was with a TV audience and with punters, it wasn’t until 1984 that the Grand National got its first title sponsor.
The lucky firm was Seagram, a little known whisky distiller that actually hailed from Canada.
The old legend goes that Ivan Straker, chairman of Seagram and a racehorse owner/fanatic, persuaded the brand’s decision-makers to sponsor the race – knowing that if no commercial partner was found, Aintree racecourse may just have been sold to property developers.
Straker has been hailed as a saviour of the Grand National in the past, and in his obituary it was written by The Scotsman newspaper that he was the ‘Scot who saved the National.’
In a bizarre twist, the last year that Seagram sponsored the Grand National it was won by a horse called….you guessed it, Seagram!