John Smith's has extended its sponsorship of the Grand National horse race.

The Scottish & Newcastle-owned bitter brand, which took over as sponsor from Pernod Ricard's Martell Cognac last year, will be the race's official sponsor until 2010, the brewer confirmed yesterday (14 November).

The initial deal had been for three years, but John Smith's will now back the event for a further three years, with an option to renew for another three years after that. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

"Pairing 'The People's Pint' with 'The People's Race' has produced a major force in beer marketing and we are delighted with the multi-layered contribution the sponsorship has made (to) the John Smith's marketing programme," added Nigel Pollard, head of sponsorship & PR at Scottish & Newcastle UK.

"The new three-year extension to the sponsorship agreement will enable Aintree and Scottish & Newcastle to grow and develop still further the world's best-known steeplechase and Britain's number one ale."

Charles Barnett, managing director of Aintree Racecourse, added: "It remains an ambition of Aintree Racecourse and Scottish & Newcastle to increase the total prize fund of the John Smith's Grand National to GBP1m (US$1.9m) during the course of the sponsorship agreement and today's announcement takes us a step nearer to realising that aim."