Longines and Horse Racing – a great partnership!

Longines timepieces at Churchill Downs finish line

One definitely noticed the Longines timepieces in the infield at the Kentucky Derby. We saw them again at the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico and also at the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. For the first time in 2013, Longines was the official timekeeper and official watch of all three Triple Crown races; it was also a title sponsor of the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs. Other title sponsorships include the Sheema Classic at the Dubai World Cup and the Longines Jockey Club Cup in Hong Kong.

Partnerships and sponsorships between racetracks and non-racing entities are few and far between, except at the highest levels of the sport (The Kentucky Derby or the Breeders’ Cup Classic). Branding opportunities by breeding farms or other racing businesses offer revenue streams for the tracks and exposure to the sponsoring companies, but they do little to expand the sport’s reach beyond its niche market. Longines is one of the few non-industry companies with a long-standing and wide-ranging financial commitment to equestrian sports, and particularly horse racing.

In its role as an arbiter of elegance, Longines sponsored a contest at Chantilly for “the most elegant lady at the racecourse” and served as a judge for the best turned out horse at Ascot. At this year’s Kentucky Derby, Longines offered a “most elegant woman” contest, complete with on-site registration requirements, a stage, and celebrity judges. Not all its fashion events are quite so formal; at some racetracks, a photographer will move among the crowd, nominating people throughout the day, with contestants or noteworthy participants shown on a big infield screen.

If presentations at major races in three countries weren’t enough to keep the Longines representatives busy, the company also announced a long-term partnership with the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, in which Longines became the official sponsor of the World’s Best Racehorses Rankings.

The World’s Best Racehorses Rankings definitely are names we know. The retired, undefeated Australian mare Black Caviar was ranked #1 through June 9, followed by three horses that are based in the United States for their racing careers: Wise Dan, Animal Kingdom, and Game On Dude. Animal Kingdom was recently retired and will begin his stud career in Australia.

Preferring to keep its U.S. focus on the Triple Crown, Longines will have a less visible presence here during summer racing and the road to the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Park in November. Its international profile will be higher, at equestrian events beyond the racetrack, as the company has a 10-year, multi-million dollar agreement with the Fédération Equestre Internationale, the international governing body for all Olympic equestrian disciplines.

Despite that absence in the second half of the racing year, Longines expects to continue its participation in horse racing for the foreseeable future. We welcome them in horse racing circles!