Jockey Club Racecourses confirms new Regional Directors

6th August 2012

Jockey Club Racecourses (JCR), the largest racecourse group in the UK*, today announced the appointment of four Regional Directors under a new management structure that will see its 14 racecourses run in four regional clusters, reporting to Paul Fisher, JCR's Group Managing Director.

The new approach is designed to take collaboration between The Jockey Club’s racecourses to a new level; making it easier to share best practice, promote a consistent set of Core Values around The Jockey Club brand throughout the Group, increase the effectiveness of sales and marketing to customers regionally and reduce costs.

The Regional Directors appointed are:

  • South West, with responsibility for Cheltenham, Exeter, Warwick and Wincanton racecourses: Ian Renton, currently Managing Director for Arena Leisure

  • East, with responsibility for Huntingdon, Market Rasen, Newmarket and Nottingham racecourses: Amy Starkey, currently Managing Director of Newmarket Racecourses

  • North West, with responsibility for Aintree, Carlisle and Haydock Park racecourses: John Baker, currently Group Director of Operations for Jockey Club Racecourses

  • London, with responsibility for Epsom Downs, Kempton Park and Sandown Park: Rupert Trevelyan, currently Managing Director of Epsom Downs

It is anticipated that Ian Renton will join Jockey Club Racecourses in October. The other Regional Directors will start their new roles in early September, allowing each to ready their regions for us to introduce the new regional structure early in 2013.

Each Regional Director will run a large racecourse and oversee the performance of the two or three other racecourses in their region, supported by General Managers at those locations. Regional Directors will also join the JCR Board.

In the case of the South West and East regions, the Regional Director will be based at Cheltenham and Newmarket respectively, running those 'large' racecourses. The new Regional Directors for the North West and London regions will lead the decision making process on how best to operate those regions.

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

"I'm delighted we've completed this process with four very strong Regional Directors ready to help take our business forwards, with the support of the talented teams of colleagues we have throughout our Group.

"We have thought carefully about the mix of talent we will have now at regional management level and around the JCR Board table. Regional Directors will not just have an important role to play in their regions; together they will influence the Group's whole approach.

"In Amy, John and Rupert, we have appointed three senior colleagues from within our Group to regional management roles. Each has an excellent track record of success within the business and demonstrated the vision and skill required for their new roles.

"Joining them, we’re delighted to welcome Ian Renton back to Jockey Club Racecourses. He will bring a real wealth of experience to the South West region, which includes Cheltenham Racecourse, but we will also benefit from the value he can add across the racecourse group."

Simon Bazalgette, Group Chief Executive of The Jockey Club and Chairman of Jockey Club Racecourses, said:

"On the back of strong results, we believe this is the best time to position the Group for the opportunities and challenges ahead. That's a firm indication that we'll never stand still when we know there are opportunities to do more for British racing. 

"This recruitment process is the most extensive we've ever conducted within The Jockey Club and we’ve been delighted with the calibre of internal and external candidates involved from the racing, sports and leisure industries. I'd like to thank them for their interest, efforts and professionalism throughout.”

At this stage, each racecourse will continue to be run by their current Managing Director or General Manager. In addition, The Jockey Club is looking to hire a Group Betting Director and a Group Brand Development Director to capitalise on opportunities within its new structure.

Another role within the new structure saw Stephen Wallis, previously Managing Director of Newmarket Racecourses, appointed Group Director of International and Racing Relations in January 2012.

Ian Renton said: “Having spent eleven successful years at Arena Leisure and assisted with its integration with Northern Racing, I am delighted to take on the role of South West Regional Director of Jockey Club Racecourses. This is an exciting opportunity to be involved in the further development of Cheltenham Racecourse, and to contributing to the wider racecourse group.”

Michael Howard, Chairman of Northern Racing and Arena Leisure, said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ian Renton both for his long and distinguished service to Arena Leisure and for the very constructive contribution he has made to the task of putting Arena Leisure and Northern Racing together over the last few months. We are very grateful to Ian for all he has done and wish him well in the future.”

Amy Starkey said: "A quarter of all the UK's racecourses are part of The Jockey Club, so it makes complete sense to introduce a new operating structure that encourages close working between courses in your region. I'm delighted to be appointed Regional Director for the East and believe all four fantastic courses in our region can benefit from increasing collaboration, with British racing enjoying the results long term."

John Baker said: "Heading up the North West region, where I was born and brought up, is truly a special opportunity. Each of our three racecourses has a particular meaning for me, with Haydock Park being the first racing I visited as a child, the Grand National being my inspiration for my love of our sport and of course Carlisle, which I ran for a fantastic seven years. There has been some terrific work put in at all of the courses and working with all the teams there to build on that in partnership will be hugely important."

Rupert Trevelyan said: “I'm delighted to have been made the London Regional Director after three years within Jockey Club Racecourses at Epsom Downs. Three Investec Derby Festivals later, racing is a real passion and I want to do everything I can to help promote the sport and our fantastic racecourses in the London region. By combining the resources of these three courses, we can grow the popularity of racing in and around our sports mad city.”

About Ian Renton:
Ian Renton is one of the most experienced and respected professionals in the racing industry. Since July 2004, he has been Managing Director of Arena Leisure Plc, which was recently acquired by the Reuben Brothers’ Aldersgate Investments Ltd. Since he has played an important role in the integration of Arena Leisure and Northern Racing.

Currently, Ian is a non-executive director of At The Races satellite television channel and British Champions Series Ltd, in which The Jockey Club is the largest shareholder. Between 2007 and 2010 he was a non-executive director of British racing’s governing body, the British Horseracing Authority, and chairman of the BHA Audit Committee. From 2000 to 2007, he was a non-executive director of the Racecourse Association.

Ian was Racing Director of Arena Leisure Plc between 2001 and 2004 and previously worked for Jockey Club Racecourses as Clerk of the Course at Aintree Racecourse. Between 1988 and 2001 he was Manager and Clerk of the Course at Salisbury and Wincanton Racecourses. During this period, from 1985 to 1988 he was also Assistant Manager of Cheltenham Racecourse.

About Amy Starkey:
Amy has run three of The Jockey Club’s racecourses since being appointed Managing Director of Huntingdon Park in 2005. In spring 2012, she became Managing Director of Newmarket Racecourses after running Kempton Park for four years, with much success.

After a potential career as a gymnast was shattered by injury at a young age, Amy developed an enthusiasm for racing during her schooldays spent near York Racecourse. Either side of university, Amy worked for bookmakers before joining the Racecourse Association and then Sedgefield Racecourse, part of Northern Racing. She has been named an ‘Achiever of the Year’ by Buckingham Palace.

About John Baker:
John Baker was appointed Group Director of Operations for Jockey Club Racecourses in October 2010. In his current role, John has helped to improve the Group’s sales performance, Conference & Events business and collaboration between courses, as well as helping to develop the Group’s new regional management structure.

John has more than 20 years’ experience in management, commercial and marketing roles in the British racing industry at Sandown Park, Kempton Park and Epsom Downs (when known as United Racecourses), Carlisle, Chepstow, Bath, Worcester, Fontwell and Plumpton racecourses, as well as at the Racecourse Association and Raceform.

About Rupert Trevelyan:
Rupert has spent the last three years as Managing Director of Epsom Downs Racecourse, where his accomplishments include running three successful Investec Derby Festivals, securing a ten-year sponsorship renewal with Investec, launching Her Majesty’s long weekend of Diamond Jubilee celebrations and significantly growing the racecourse’s conferencing and events business. His first professional experience of racing came as Brand Manager at Whitbread in the early 90s, when he was responsible for the sponsorship of the Mackeson Gold Cup.

With more than 25 years of leisure and hospitality experience, prior to joining Epsom Downs, Rupert was an interim director at the Royal Horticultural Society having previously run the marketing and passenger operations for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company. Previous experience includes 10 years in the brewing and pub sector and stints with Centrica and Compass the Jockey Club’s catering partner.

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