Picture: 123RF/ MELORY S
Picture: 123RF/ MELORY S

As several sports worry about the continuation of sponsorships, the concern for Investec, will be how much mileage they will get if the English Derby is run behind closed doors.

This year will be Investec’s 12th anniversary of its sponsorship of the race. It took over from Vodafone in 2009 and has a contract to back the event until 2026.

Earlier this week the local Epsom council agreed the race could be run on a Saturday in July, or possibly August, with the public barred and metal fences erected around the racecourse.

Anyone who has been in the UK in the week of the Investec Derby over the past 12 years — this writer has been lucky enough to attend six times in this period — will know its advertising is first class.

There are posters plastered all over the place including bridges, rail and bus stations. If you don’t know the race is taking place, you’re on another planet.

This begs the question — will this year’s advertising for an event which stands out in Investec’s sponsorship portfolio — get through to the public when the race is being run behind closed doors?

There is a 1984 law which states the public has unlimited access to land within the Epsom racecourse site, but the local council decision seems to have overcome this. The council stated: “Our message to our local residents, in particular, will be you can really support the 2020 Derby by staying at home and watching it live from the comfort of your armchair.”

Delia Bushell, Jockey Club group CEO, said: “We are working hard on a practical and deliverable plan to stage the 2020 Investec Derby at its traditional home without a crowd and once racing is approved to resume by government.

“The two classics [Derby and Oaks] play a vital role in the thoroughbred racing and breeding industries so it’s of great importance for them to be able to go ahead during this difficult period.

“Our teams look forward to working with the British Horseracing Authority and local authorities to bring our plan to life. Metal fences will be put up around Epsom and are intended to guarantee the fixture is free of spectators and also members of the public,” said Bushell.

Queen Elizabeth will be particularly disappointed that the Derby may be staged behind closed doors as she is a racing enthusiast and has missed attending the event only twice since 1946. That year she travelled to Epsom for the first time as a princess.

A victory in the Derby still eludes the queen but her colours were carried to victory in the 1977 Oaks by Dunfermline, who won under jockey Willie Carson.