Gillespie steps down
(Healy Racing Photos)
Gillespie has run Cheltenham Racecourse since the age of 27 in one of the longest tenures in British sport. He will continue in his position until a successor is appointed and then complete a full handover period designed to ensure a smooth management transition for one of British racing's crown jewels.
He will also act as a consultant to Jockey Club Racecourses on various projects, including the next stage of development at Cheltenham Racecourse, which is undergoing a feasibility study.
In 2012, The Festival at Cheltenham attracted its largest ever attendance of 236,700 people over the four days. This crowd figure was 13,700 higher than 2011 and over 10 percent up on the number who attended in 2009.
Jockey Club Racecourses, the largest racecourse group in the UK, which owns Cheltenham Racecourse, will now launch an internal and external recruitment process to attract the most talented successor to Gillespie from within the racing, sport and leisure industries.
Edward Gillespie said: "It has been a privilege to manage Cheltenham for 32 years and striving for the continued success of this special place has been at the centre of everything I have done in that time.
"Gold Cup Day this year was my 100th Festival day in charge and it was extremely satisfying that it also marked our highest ever attendance, as the climax of a tremendous season at the Racecourse.
"I'm 60 years old in July and, while part of me feels I could carry on forever, I'm conscious that my sporting heroes have bowed out at the top of their game, carrying their bats so to speak. I've been here for a long time, so I'd love to get involved in other projects within sport or business in the last few years of my career.
"While I've managed my last Cheltenham Festival, I'm in no rush; I will continue in my current position until my successor is appointed and then support him or her for as long as it takes to achieve the smoothest transition for the Racecourse.
"We've built a great team at Cheltenham who will ensure the racecourse goes from strength-to-strength, as it has always done as part of The Jockey Club. During my tenure, more than £80m has been invested here, including £20m in the last decade.
"I will also continue to be involved in planning the next stage of development at Cheltenham on a consultancy basis.
"I'll miss very much working with my colleagues and also looking after our customers, who have made Cheltenham the sporting Mecca it is today. Soon I will be an ordinary Cheltenham racegoer and I think that's a great thing to be."
Paul Fisher, Group Managing Director of Jockey Club Racecourses, said: "Edward has worked tirelessly for the good of Cheltenham, The Jockey Club and British racing throughout his career.
"The progression of Cheltenham Racecourse over the last 32 years is clear for all to see and testament to Edward and the strong team he has developed.
"We will be interviewing only the most talented potential successors from racing and the wider sports and leisure industry, which I'm sure will include candidates from within Jockey Club Racecourses.
"We will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that the end of an era is also the start of a bright new chapter for Cheltenham.
"That said, I'm pleased we will continue to work with Edward going forward on both Cheltenham and Group-related projects."
Robert Waley-Cohen, Chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse, said: "Over the past 30 years, The Festival at Cheltenham has developed into one of the great British sporting occasions and that is largely down to the energy, enthusiasm and expertise of Edward Gillespie.
"He has put his heart and soul into Cheltenham Racecourse during that time and the profile and popularity that Cheltenham now enjoys is a testament to Edward's skill in understanding what people want and developing a team that can deliver it.
"That team is now in great shape to continue the success that Edward has engineered and everyone at Cheltenham and throughout the racing industry is immensely grateful for all that he has done."
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