Cheltenham racecourse director Edward Gillespie to stand down

Edward Gillespie, the managing director at Cheltenham racecourse, is to step down after 32 years in the role.

Gillespie, who took charge of his 100th festival day in March, has been at the helm since he was 27.

"It has been a privilege to manage Cheltenham and striving for the continued success of this special place has been at the centre of everything I have done in that time," he said.

He will continue in his role until his successor is appointed in the autumn.

Gillespie will also continue as a consultant to Jockey Club Racecourses on various projects, including the next stage of development at Prestbury Park, which is currently undergoing a feasibility study.

He continued: "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.

"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."

Gillespie has helped develop and sustain the festival as one of the highlights of the sporting calendar and his final year in charge attracted its largest ever attendance of 236,700 people over the four days.

Robert Waley-Cohen, chairman of the course, added: "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."

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