Simon Bazalgette to step down as Jockey Club chief executive
Simon Bazalgette is to step down as group chief executive of the Jockey Club this year after more than ten years at the helm of the organisation.
Eleven years to the day since his appointment was announced, the Jockey Club said the search had begun for a successor, although it is hoped he will stay on in some capacity.
Bazalgette's time at the Jockey Club has not been without controversy, not least the announcement in 2017 that Kempton could be closed and sold for development.
The former executive chairman of Racing UK took over at the Jockey Club in September 2008 and has been instrumental in cementing its position as the largest commercial group in the sport.
Over the last ten years, the Jockey Club has increased turnover by 68.2 per cent, while increasing its executive contribution to prize-money by 116.8 per cent.
This year Bazalgette was linked to the role of BHA chair – set to be filled by Annamarie Phelps next month – although he denied any interest.
Bazalgette said the decision to leave had been a hard one. He added: "When appointed a little over ten years ago I agreed to do at least five years before going non-executive, but there’s always been plenty to do and great opportunities that have kept me fully engaged.
"On the back of our tenth set of record results, and with a great team in place, now seemed the right time to make my transition. I'll be standing down as group chief executive by the end of the year, but I do hope to stay involved in a non-executive or advisory role.
"In my opinion the Jockey Club is blessed with the best management team in British sport, supported by a strong board and governance structure, and my executive colleagues and our hardworking teams have been instrumental to what’s been achieved across Jockey Club Racecourses, Jockey Club Estates, the National Stud and Racing Welfare in recent years, which I’m sure will go from strength to strength."
Bazalgette's departure means 2019 will be a year of major change for the Jockey Club, with Sandy Dudgeon set to take over as senior steward from Roger Weatherby in July.
Weatherby said Bazalgette had made "an outstanding contribution" to British racing during his time at the Jockey Club.
He added: "He has played a pivotal role in major achievements for our sport, including revolutionising racing’s media rights value, vital levy reforms, nearly 100 days of free-to-air coverage with a dedicated major broadcaster in ITV; and, most importantly, the ability for the Jockey Club to make record contributions to prize-money and investments in our facilities around the country on the back of strong commercial performance.
"He has assembled a first-class executive team and we will now begin a process to ensure his successor builds on the very robust foundations Simon has laid.
"We are keen the Jockey Club and racing does not lose the significant knowledge and expertise Simon has, and so we very much hope he will continue to be involved in some way into the future."
Weatherby, Dudgeon and deputy senior steward Julia Budd will lead the search for Bazalgette's successor, advised by headhunters SRI.
The Jockey Club said the successful candidate may be appointed from within the group.
Jockey Club Racecourses chief executive Paul Fisher, Cheltenham and south-west regional director Ian Renton and group finance director Nevin Truesdale would be among the leading internal candidates.
Milestones during Bazalgette's time at the helm
September 2008 Begins job as Jockey Club group chief executive
October 2011 Instrumental in creation of Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot
March 2013 £45 redevelopment of Cheltenham announced
October 2015 One of the drivers behind Authorised Betting Partner policy which helped bring about levy reform, as well as the Members Agreement, which led to a new governance structure for British racing
January 2016 Influential in the decision that ITV should win free-to-air television rights for racing from 2017
January 2017 Jockey Club announces Kempton could be closed and sold for housing
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