John Smith’s is the new sponsor of steeplechasing’s biggest race of the year, the Grand National at Aintree. The multi-million pound deal will see the race named the John Smith’s Grand National for at least the next three years.

The Scottish & Newcastle-owned ale brand takes over the title sponsorship of this great British sporting event from Martell, who had supported the race for the past 12 years.

Under the new agreement, prize money will be increased from the current level of £600,000 and the company will sponsor all of the races taking place on Grand National day.

Managing director of Aintree Racecourse, Charles Barnett said: “We are thrilled to have forged a relationship with such a powerful brand as John Smith’s and are extremely excited about the prospect of working together to take the event to new levels over the next three years.

“We are confident that fresh ideas and this new association will help us to continue to build the Grand National meeting as the nation’s favourite sporting occasion.”

John Smith’s ale, which has recently been promoted in a serious of “No Nonsense” TV adverts featuring comedian Peter Kay, has a long association with racing. In 1959 it became the first brand to sponsor a major British flat race, the Magnet Cup at York, which is now run as the John Smith’s Cup. Other significant racing sponsorships have included the Northumberland Plate and the Midlands Grand National.

Tim Seager, marketing director of Scottish & Newcastle added: “We are delighted to add the Grand National, a major world-wide sporting event, to our racing sponsorship programme.

“This agreement means so much more than simply attaching our logo to an 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.”