BERNARD MARANTELLI, the boss of pool operator Colossus Bets, has stepped in to save the Grand National with a five-figure sponsorship deal.
Central Park promoter Roger Cearns admitted this year’s jumps annual was in danger of not being staged after an intended sponsor pulled out due to the threat of the competition being staged behind doors.
A recent lifting of restrictions will see restricted numbers of people, essentially owners, allowed in the stadium - but that still put the 2020 Grand National in doubt.
However, Colossus Bets are the event’s new backers and are returning to the Kent venue where they backed a successful Kent Silver Salver in the summer, won by Shrewd Call, whose owner Kelly Searle also landed a £10,000 bonus.
“We offered a bonus for an unbeaten run through the competition and Kelly and David’s (Mullins) dog was brilliant throughout,” said Marantelli. “I’m not sure we’ll see that for the Grand National, but you never know!
“I love greyhound racing - my family have been taking bets on it for 50 years - and I want to see it thrive,” added Marantelli. “We’ve got a number of plans and hopes for the sport and this is the latest one. Hurdles racing can be fun and a real spectacle.”
Heats of the Colossus Bets 2020 Grand National will take place over 480m hurdles on Sunday, October 25, with the semi-finals on November 1 and £7,500 final on Sunday, November 8. All races will be on RPGTV.
A delighted Roger Cearns said: “Our thanks go to Bernard and Colossus Bets for stepping in at what really is the eleventh hour to allow us to stage the Grand National. We are the home of hurdling here at Central Park, but this year’s event was in real danger.
“It’s been an unprecedented year and the pressures on track owners are immense. We had actively sought a backer for the Grand National and we’re delighted Colossus Bets are back here after a successful Kent Silver Salver sponsorship.”
Ricky Holloway, three times a Grand National-winning trainer, said: “This is fantastic news - Colossus Bets have not only saved the Grand National, they’ve saved hurdles racing. A hurdling scene without a Grand National does not bear thinking about.
“I like to think I helped in a small way to get this deal over the line - and was happy to see a tweak in the prize-money,” said Holloway. “The winner’s prize-money has been pegged back from £8K to £7,500, but the runners-up prize upped to £1,500.
“Hopefully this increases competition across the board and should ensure a good entry. It’s advertised for 36 hurdlers, but Central Park are happy to go to 24 with the first three qualifying should numbers come up short. We’ll see, but it’s great news nevertheless”
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Central Park Stadium