We all know and love Aintree Racecourse, predominantly for it's Grand National Festival every April but in order to produce such a stunning display of National Hunt Racing the amount of work that goes on in the background is absolutely phenomenal.
In recent years it has been the charge of Julian Thick to manage all aspects of the racecourse all year around and under his leadership the meeting has grown to record size in terms of attendances, sponsorship and prize money. In fact more than than 154,000 people attended the fixture in 2012, while the BBC television audience peaked at 11.1m.
Of significant difference this year is that the BBC has not renewed it's broadcasting contract for the festival so instead it will be televised on Channel 4 and it now transpires that Julian Thick is stepping down later this month with John Baker due to take over in his place.
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.”
Clearly an excellent MD who no doubt had an equally impressive team to help him over the last five years. Let's hope that John Baker can pick up the reigns, excuse the pun, and produce a fantastic 2013 Grand National!