Melbourne Cup sponsor Emirates riding into the sunset
Racing writer Melbourne
The Melbourne Cup is set to lose its major sponsor, with Emirates airline expected to end its estimated $5 million-a-year relationship with the race that stops a nation.
The Victoria Racing Club, already without sponsors for two spring carnival Group I races, is braced for Emirates to end its arrangement next year.
Having taken up a one-year option for this years $6.2m Cup, it has been a source of some speculation that Emirates would make way for a new brand to saddle up with the great race.
“The sponsorship has done its job and served its purpose,” one observer said.
Emirates is understood to be considering all its sponsorship arrangements for 2018 and beyond. The airline replaced Toohey’s New as sponsor of the race in 2004 with a seven-year deal. A meeting in Dubai early in 2011 saw the deal extended to include the 2015 race won by Prince Of Penzance. Emirates then stayed on for Almandin’s stirring victory last year.
Emirates has partnered with the VRC in taking the Cup itself to the world. The airline has also contributed to the races internationalisation.
The Cup sponsorship deal — running into tens of millions of dollars over the years — has featured monetary and contra components, as well as a lavish, themed marquee at the race.
After announcing the Longines Mile last June — only to lose the watchmaker on the eve of the carnival — the VRC was recently alerted to Crown ending its Oaks sponsorship after 21 years.
With new chairwoman Amanda Elliott, chief executive Simon Love not 18 months in the job and significant recent personnel turnover, the VRC needs to start backing some business winners. The old members’ stand is coming down and a $120m structure is going up in its place, scheduled to open in the spring of 2018.