Edward Gillespie, Managing Director of Cheltenham Racecourse, was last night honoured with the Jaguar Lifetime Achievement Award at the Sport Industry Awards 2011 Ceremony, the 10th anniversary of the prestigious event.
Gillespie, who has built The Festival at Cheltenham into arguably the biggest event in the British racing calendar during a tenure spanning over three decades, received his Award from record-breaking champion jump jockey A P (Tony) McCoy and ex-jockey and racing pundit Mick Fitzgerald in front of a packed room of 1,700 industry executives and sporting celebrities.
In accepting his Award, Edward commented: “I am honoured to be receiving this special award, particularly in a room full of so many talented people from across the Sports Industry, but I really do feel that this is recognition of the talented and industrious people with whom I’ve worked over the last 30 years at Cheltenham.
“The sport of horseracing is one that I care passionately about and much of what has been achieved during my time at Cheltenham has been due to the brilliance of generations of horses, jockeys and trainers, who provide the magical spectacle that appeals to so many people.
“It has been a privilege to go to work every day and to have the strong support of The Jockey Club and the wider racing industry over more than three decades in the sport. I am as enthusiastic about what we do as I have ever been and am looking forward enormously to challenges that face us in the years to come.”
Expressing his delight at being able to present Gillespie with this prestigious Award, McCoy said: “It was an absolute honour for me to be invited to present Edward with his award.
“He has done so much for British racing, driving Jump Racing’s most prestigious event of the season to new heights and creating a Festival with which nothing else competes.
“For me, the entire year is always focused on Cheltenham and this is because Edward has made it as great as it is today. I am delighted to be here to share in his special moment.”
Simon Bazalgette, Group Chief Executive of The Jockey Club, declared: “I’m delighted for Edward and what fantastic news for Cheltenham, Jockey Club Racecourses and British racing.
“Under Edward’s leadership, the Cheltenham Festival has grown into one of the most iconic events in British sport today. Edward plays an important role within our 14-strong group of racecourses and the industry as a whole, and has much to pass on to younger racecourse managers.”
Previous winners of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Sport Industry Awards have included Brendan Foster, founder of the Great North Run in 2010; McLaren executive chairman Ron Dennis (2009); Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton (2008); former Sky Sports managing director Vic Wakeling (2007) and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone (2005).