New boss Renton: No major racecourse changes needed
NEW boss Ian Renton is planning to make "the odd tweak" to Cheltenham Racecourse after overseeing a record-breaking meeting at the course.
The Open attracted a total attendance of 70, 551 – the highest ever for the three-day fixture.
Renton was taking overall charge of a race-meeting at Prestbury Park for the first time since longstanding managing director Edward Gillespie quit his post.
The 54-year-old, grandson of 1950 Grand National-winning trainer Bobby Renton, used the three days to explore where improvements could be made to help him build upon the legacy left by Gillespie.
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"I was a trainee manager here in the late 1980s, which was my first job in racing, and despite having been away for the best part of 25 years it's amazing how familiar it still is," he said.
"There are lots of things you see with a different eye, but it's fantastic to be back and there is such a buzz with so many people here.
"I want to get to know every aspect of the racecourse so I have been taking a good look and walking among the crowds, but Edward did such a brilliant job that I won't be looking at massive changes, just the odd tweak here and there.
"You just want to make sure there are no 'pinch points' at a busy meeting and make minor alterations where they are needed.
"We've got a development planned with regard to the grandstand, and while the timing of any work is very inexact we will be working on a design and putting in for planning permission next year.
"I would hope in the next few years we will see the next major structural development that will enable us to cope better with the crowds we attract to the Festival.
"This meeting has been ideal for me to take a fresh look at Cheltenham, because with 70,000 people on the premises I have been able to see all the facilities working near to capacity.
"Things have gone extremely well."
As well as Prestbury Park, Renton also has responsibility for Exeter, Wincanton and Warwick under his official title as Jockey Club Racecourses' regional director of Cheltenham and the South West.
He said the experienced staff around him would help make his wide-ranging job easier.
Renton said: "I am incredibly lucky to inherit a wonderful team of people here at Cheltenham – they make it happen and do all the hard work.
"Edward has left a wonderful legacy for which I am grateful, but there will be new challenges ahead and I am looking forward to them."