Godolphin and Emirates Airlines Strike Sponsorship Deal

Godolphin, the private racing stable of Dubai's ruling Maktoum family, announced Friday a new multi-million U.S. dollar sponsorship agreement with Emirates, the international airline of the United Arab Emirates.

As part of the agreement, the Godolphin silks will sport a new Fly Emirates logo and, for the first time, Fly Emirates branding will be carried on other elements of the stable's livery.

"The exposure that Godolphin's horses receive at the top racetracks around the world makes this sponsorship an ideal vehicle for Emirates, as well as complementing our existing sporting involvement," said the airline's chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.

Emirates' exposure will be spotty in the United States where many states ban advertising and corporate logos on jockey silks, including Kentucky.

"I would think they would have to use their old silks or we would have to tape over the logo," said Bernie Hettel, executive director of the Kentucky Racing Commission. "In some way we would have to nullify the ad."

Godolphin and Emirates won't have a problem in New York, which adopted provisions for advertising on jockey attire and silks in 1998, and California where jockey advertising rules are being finalized. When Godolphin does race with its Fly Emirates silks in New York, it will be the first outfit to take advantage of the advertising provision, according to Stacy Walker, spokeswoman for the New York Racing and Wagering Board.

"All they have to do is fill out a form that states the owners approves of it, then have it reviewed by the racetrack," Walker said. "The racetrack will want to be sure it does not conflict with their sponsors."

Jockey advertising was approved in California last November and procedures for regulating ads on jockey attire, ownersê silks, and saddle cloths are being finalized. The regulation allows ads on the thighs of a jockeyês pants, the belt area on the back of the pants, and on the boots and leggings. Advertising up to 32 square inches also is allowed on the chest of the silks and up 1.5 inches by 4 inches on each collar.

California ads may be approved beginning with the Bay Meadows meet April 4 and the Hollywood Park meet April 24. Roy Wood, California Horse Racing Board executive director, said he didn't want to begin the program in the middle of a meet "without everyone having a clear understanding of the procedures."

Emirates' sponsorship of horse racing's most successful international stable is part of a top class sporting portfolio that includes the world's richest horse race, the Dubai World Cup, as well as international rugby sevens, tennis, cricket, golf, and English Premiership football.