Cheltenham are struggling to find a Gold Cup sponsor amid concern the Festival is suffering from claims it was a super-spreader event at the start of the pandemic two years ago.
Sportsmail has learned that financial services company Brown Advisory walked away from a proposed deal that was close to completion last week, leaving Jockey Club executives to continue searching for sponsors for the biggest race in the jumps calendar just two months before the Festival.
The Jockey Club opted to grant sponsorship of the Gold Cup to charity WellChild 12 months ago following the withdrawal of Magners just 36 days before the race. Securing a permanent replacement is proving a major challenge.
Cheltenham are struggling to find a Gold Cup sponsor just two months before the Festival
While the successful partnership with WellChild will continue in some form, the Jockey Club had hoped to attract commercial backing from a major consumer brand, as opposed to doing another deal with the betting industry.
Magners’ decision to end their three-year sponsorship deal 12 months early remains the subject of legal action from the Jockey Club, who are insisting on being paid the remaining £1.7million they are owed on the contract.
Magners’ case revolves around the claim that the 2020 Festival should not have gone ahead due to Covid-19 and that their brand was damaged as a result.
The Jockey Club counter that their decision to continue was based on Government advice.
It is understood financial services company Brown Advisory walked away from a potential deal
Cheltenham are expecting record ticket sales for what they hope will be the first normal Festival in three years after it was held behind closed doors last March.
The Jockey Club were already resigned to accepting a cut-price deal well below the Magners deal, and if they do not find a partner soon they may fall back on a short-term tie-up with a bookmaker.
Charlie Boss, the Jockey Club’s chief commercial officer, told Sportsmail: ‘We’re proud that the Cheltenham Festival is one of sport’s great events and has such a fantastic roster of partners involved each year.
‘Discussions are progressing with interested parties about the available sponsorship of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.’