Jockey Club Racecourses announce Group and North West region news

28th August 2012

Jockey Club Racecourses (JCR), the largest racecourse group in the UK*, today announced:

  • The appointment of Dickon White as its first Group Betting Director from September 2012
  • John Baker will take over the running of Aintree Racecourse as part of his North West Regional Director role after Julian Thick stands down at the end of September 2012 

Dickon White appointed Group Betting Director

Dickon White, who is currently Managing Director of The Jockey Club’s Haydock Park Racecourse, will take up the newly created role of Group Betting Director in September 2012, reporting to Paul Fisher, Group Managing Director of Jockey Club Racecourses.

In his new position, White will be responsible for generating the maximum return from JCR’s Totepool partnership with Betfred, while developing and maintaining excellent relationships with the betting and gaming industries, including creating mutually beneficial commercial opportunities, which JCR has identified as business priorities.

White has worked for JCR since 1998 when he joined Aintree Racecourse as Marketing and PR Executive. He was promoted through to the position of Commercial Director before joining Haydock Park as Managing Director in September 2006.

While at Aintree, White played a key role in securing John Smith’s as sponsor of the Grand National Meeting and worked closely with betting operators to develop commercial relationships. At Haydock Park, he has been responsible for building the quality and profile of the Betfair Chase, won in 2011 by Kauto Star, overseen extensive track development and expanded the course’s long-term relationship with Betfred, which included sponsorship and a 10-year on-course betting shop agreement.

Paul Fisher, Group Managing Director of Jockey Club Racecourses, said:

“I'm delighted to announce that Dickon White will play a new and important Group role within Jockey Club Racecourses as part of the new structure we are introducing for our business. Dickon has a strong track record of success within our Group and has demonstrated the skills that are required to his new position.”

Dickon White said:

“During my fourteen years at Haydock Park and Aintree, I have had the opportunity to develop strong relationships and an understanding of the challenges within this sector of the racing industry.

“I look forward to developing our partnerships with both on-course and off-course operators, to exploit mutually beneficial opportunities now and in the future.”

Bill Whittle, Chairman of Haydock Park Racecourse, said:

“We are all pleased with the news that Dickon is to be the Group Betting Director for Jockey Club Racecourses. Throughout his time at Haydock Park he has been a conscientious and popular Managing Director who has helped further the development of the racecourse in both its race programme and facilities. We wish him every success in his new role.”

John Baker to run Aintree Racecourse as Julian Thick announces he will stand down

Jockey Club Racecourses today announced that its newly appointed North West Regional Director, John Baker, will take over the running of Aintree Racecourse from Julian Thick, who will stand down as Managing Director after a transition period at the end of September 2012. Thick has been in charge of Aintree Racecourse for more than five years and has worked for Jockey Club Racecourses for the last 20 years.

Aintree Racecourse stages the three-day John Smith’s Grand National meeting and five other days of racing a year. It also operates a world-class indoor equestrian centre, a nine-hole golf course and driving range, and acts as a busy conference and events venue all-year-round.

Under Julian Thick’s leadership, the John Smith’s Grand National meeting has grown to record size in terms of attendances, sponsorship and prize money. In 2012, more than 154,000 people attended the fixture, while the BBC television audience peaked at 11.1m.

In 1992, Julian Thick joined Aintree Racecourse in an operational capacity. In 1995, he moved to JCR’s Kempton Park Racecourse as General Manager and was promoted to Managing Director in 2002. In 2006, he was appointed Managing Director of Sandown Park Racecourse, having overseen the completion of the floodlit all-weather track at Kempton Park, before returning to Aintree Racecourse in 2007, in the position of Managing Director.

Paul Fisher, Group Managing Director of Jockey Club Racecourses, said;

“I'd like to thank Julian Thick for the telling contribution he has made to Aintree and The Jockey Club as a Group over many years. Under his leadership, he has helped to grow the John Smith’s Grand National meeting to a record level in terms of attendances, sponsorship and prize money, while tackling head-on the unique challenges associated with staging the world’s most famous steeplechase.

“After guiding Aintree to this point and with the various structural changes taking place within Jockey Club Racecourses, we understand Julian feels this is the right time to stand down and explore new opportunities for the next stage of his successful career. He will leave us with our thanks and best wishes for his next role.”

Julian Thick said:

“Having managed five Grand Nationals and enjoyed working within Jockey Club Racecourses for the last 20 years, I have decided to stand down at the end of September as I am ready for a new challenge.

“I leave Aintree in the best possible shape. We achieved record crowds in the last two years, and have grown all the key commercial aspects of the business despite tough economic conditions in recent times. Achieving consistent year-on-year growth in profits has enabled reinvestment in our racing and Aintree’s facilities. We have the backing of a group of very supportive sponsors and the John Smith’s Grand National meeting has gone from strength-to-strength.

“Aintree has in place a strong, proven and talented team and I wish John Baker every success leading the North West region in the future. In particular I would like to thank Peter Daresbury and the rest of the Aintree Board and executive team for the great support I have received during my time here. I would also like to thank those within the wider Jockey Club family, the racing industry and the all-important local community, who have helped Aintree become the success it is today.”

John Baker, North West Regional Director for Jockey Club Racecourses, said:

"The Grand National was the inspiration of my love for horseracing. To be responsible for Aintree as part of my role heading up the North West region is truly a special opportunity. I would like to thank Julian Thick for the tremendous job he has done over the last few years. With hard work from everyone at Aintree and its sister courses in the North West, I believe we can build on this success in the coming years.”

Lord Daresbury, Chairman of Aintree Racecourse, said:

“Julian has done an excellent job at Aintree. His all-round leadership and steadiness under pressure were key ingredients for the role he has fulfilled these past five years. Following Charlie Barnett was a difficult task, but Julian has helped Aintree to go from strength-to-strength.

“I wish him all the very best for the future and look forward to working with John Baker under Jockey Club Racecourses’ new regional structure. Combining forces with The Jockey Club’s other courses in our region can help us to do even more for the good of British racing.”

*By turnover, as well as several other measures including attendances, quality racing (Group and Graded), contribution to prize money and total prize money