Lasqueti Spirit Kennedy has been named as the sponsor of the VRC Oaks

Luxury watch and jewellery retailer Kennedy has been named as the sponsor of the VRC Oaks, filling the void left by gaming group Crown.

Crown declined to extend its decade-long partnership beyond 2016 – the year it brought Usain Bolt to Flemington.

The Victoria Racing Club hasn’t revealed how much the five-year deal with Kennedy is worth but it gives the boutique retailer:

* naming rights for both the Oaks and Oaks Day

* naming rights for the Group One Cantala Stakes – now known as Kennedy Mile

* branding on the clocktower from August as its new deal as official timekeeper

* a marquee in the Birdcage Enclosure for the entire Melbourne Cup carnival.

Kennedy runs five boutiques in Melbourne and Sydney and expects to open a further four by the end of the year, including one in Perth.

“Kennedy is dedicated to excellence across every touchpoint of the business, and we look forward to a strong relationship with the VRC and the opportunity to build on the legacy of the Melbourne Cup Carnival,” Kennedy executive chairman James Kennedy said in a statement.

Luxury Swiss jeweller Longines was Flemington’s timekeeper for 14 years before dropping out ahead of last year’s Melbourne Cup carnival.

The VRC is also negotiating a deal for the naming rights of the Melbourne Cup.

The current deal with airline Emirates will end at the end of the year.

“Negotiations for sponsorship of the Emirates Melbourne Cup beyond this time will be concluded prior to this year’s event,” the VRC said in a statement to AAP.

Emirates has sponsored the VRC’s premier race since 2004.

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