03/05/2008 12:00AM

Juddmonte backs Epsom races


Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms has stepped into the breach and will sponsor three big races at Epsom in June, among them the English Oaks. Left without sponsorship when Vodafone ended its 13-year relationship with Epsom's British classic weekend, the Oaks as well as the Group 1 Coronation Cup and the Group 3 Diomed Stakes, will be sponsored by Juddmonte for this year only.

The Epsom Derby had also lost its Vodafone sponsorship, but the telecommunications giant agreed last month to back the race one more time.

That news came hard on the heels that Japanese automobile maker Mitsubishi will end its sponsorship of the Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby) after this year. The fashion house Hermes had already announced that it would not renew its 25-year sponsorship of the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) this year.

By contrast, France-Galop, the ruling body of the nation's racing, signed a contract in December with the government of Qatar to sponsor the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and double the purse to 4 million euros. At current exchange rates, that would make it the world's richest race at $6.1 million, surpassing the $6 million Dubai World Cup.