Exclusive Interview with Ian Renton – Regional Director, Cheltenham Racecourse
As one of the most luxurious hotels near Cheltenham Racecourse, we are always in the know when it comes to the racing calendar. With the Showcase just around the corner at the end of October, we spoke with Ian Renton for an exclusive look into his career and what is coming up at the racecourse.
How long have you held the Regional Director position at Cheltenham?
I have been Regional Director at Cheltenham for six years.
What has been your stand out memory to date?
My favourite memory would have to be my involvement in the build and development of The Princess Royal Stand which we started quite soon after I took on the role of Regional Director and, as a result, I lived and breathed the project. It was a real thrill to have the stand’s namesake, HRH The Princess Royal, open The Princess Royal Stand to the public in November 2015. For me personally, it was a real privilege to be part of a project that helped transform the racecourse and vastly improved the spectator experience at a world class sporting venue.
I work with many members of a very talented team at Cheltenham covering all areas of the business, as well as dealing with all sorts of external opportunities, so no day is the same. I am very lucky that I can enjoy an incredibly varied role, of which I enjoy every aspect. On average, I am away from the racecourse a day or two a week, in London or further afield.
With The Showcase just around the corner, talk us through the preparations required to ensure the entire venue is prepared.
Even before this year’s Festival, my thoughts are on the following year’s Festival and what changes we might bring in. We therefore spend much of the summer putting everything in place for the following March before concentrating on the earlier part of the season. Each year we try to improve the standards and I am very lucky to have very skillful teams looking after the track and all the facilities at the racecourse to ensure that Owners, Trainers, Jockeys and Racegoers get the best that we are able to provide.
English weather is notoriously unpredictable, can you talk us through the different processes required for preparing the course itself throughout the different seasons?
Simon Claisse is our Regional Head of Racing and is responsible for the racecourse grounds and it his job, in conjunction with Ben Hastie, our Head Groundsman, to produce the perfect racing surface. He has been in the role since 2000 so he has plenty of experience working with tricky and unpredictable conditions! This year ten days before The Festival the team were shovelling snow off the course thanks to the Beast from the East. We have a dedicated weatherman, John Kettley, who predicts the weather for us and this year spotted the storm two weeks before it was announced to the public. This was invaluable for us.
We take pride in offering five-star service to our guests, and many stay with us for race-day experiences. What is your aim when it comes to guests experiencing Cheltenham Racecourse?
I am always working to continually enhance the race day experience. We have significantly improved the facilities and service provided in recent years and we continue to push the hospitality creative boundaries to the next level.
Thank you for speaking to us Ian, it has been a pleasure. You can find out more about Cheltenham Racecourse here – the racing season starts again with The Showcase on Friday 26th October that will continue into Saturday 27th.
Interested in attending? Ellenborough Park is the perfect base for your day out with our complimentary race day chauffeur service from the wonderful team at HR Owen. To find out more about events and tickets and our race day hospitality, click here.
Stay at one of the finest hotels near Cheltenham Racecourse and make a getaway of your day at the races. Book direct for the very best rates.
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