Former highflying TV executive appointed Jockey Club chief

AFP
Delia Bushell is to replace Simon Bazalgette as Chief Executive of The Jockey Club which owns 15 racecourses including Aintree home to The Grand National. (AFP Photo/Paul ELLIS)

Delia Bushell is to replace Simon Bazalgette as Chief Executive of The Jockey Club which owns 15 racecourses including Aintree home to The Grand National

Delia Bushell is to replace Simon Bazalgette as Chief Executive of The Jockey Club which owns 15 racecourses including Aintree home to The Grand National. (AFP Photo/Paul ELLIS)

London (AFP) - Delia Bushell who oversaw BT Sport's acquisition of Premier League and Champions League football rights is to succeed Simon Bazalgette as Chief Executive of The Jockey Club, the largest commercial group in British horseracing.

Bazalgette is to step down in October after a successful 11 year tenure at The Jockey Club which operates 15 racecourses where some of the most famous race meetings in the global calendar take place -- The Cheltenham Festival, the world's greatest steeplechase The Grand National at Aintree and The Epsom Oaks and Derby.

The Jockey Club saw its revenues grow to a record £214.6 million ($264 million) in 2018.

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Those figures allowed the Jockey Club to contribute a record £27.1 million into the prizemoney pot -- up by just over £4 million from 2017 and more than double the amount it contributed 10 years ago.

Bushell has more than 20 years' experience in the media and sport sector in both executive and non-executive roles.

She is a non-executive director of the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and of Commonwealth Games England.

Bushell -- who will join in September -- said she was "honoured to lead the iconic institution" and ready to address the challenges facing the sport at a crucial time.

"The years to come will be critical for the sport, as we embrace the opportunities and challenges of innovating for fans and racegoers, appealing to new and more diverse audiences, broadening revenue streams, and driving inward investment," she said in a Jockey Club statement.

Sandy Dudgeon, Chief Steward of the Jockey Club, said Bushell would be a steady hand at the tiller especially with her knowledge of media, sport and technology and also paid a fulsome tribute to 57-year-old Bazalgette.

"His leadership helped us to grow commercial revenues significantly, enabling us to return record sums back to British Racing," he said.

"We have improved our facilities considerably, none more so than our flagship £45 million development at Cheltenham.

"His vision was pivotal to a range of achievements by the industry, including the growth of media rights value, our terrestrial broadcast relationship with ITV, Levy Reform and the creation of QIPCO British Champions Day."

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