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John Baker to replace Julian Thick at Aintree

28 August 2012

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Thick, who has been in charge of the running of Aintree for more than five years, and involved in parent group JCR for 20 years, will be replaced by John Baker, who was recently appointed north west regional director.

Thick was thought to be one of the front-runners for the top job at Cheltenham, to be vacated by Edward Gillespie, but that position - and that of south west regional director - went to Ian Renton.

Under Thick's stewardship, the prize-money for the John Smith's Grand National has swelled to nearly £1 million, with more than 150,000 people attending the meeting this year.

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.

"Aintree has in place a strong, proven and talented team and I wish John Baker every success leading the north west region in the future. In particular I would like to thank Peter Daresbury and the rest of the Aintree board and executive team for the great support I have received during my time here. I would also like to thank those within the wider Jockey Club family, the racing industry and the all-important local community, who have helped Aintree become the success it is today."

Baker, paid tribute to his predecessor, as he added: "The Grand National was the inspiration of my love for horseracing. To be responsible for Aintree as part of my role heading up the north west region is truly a special opportunity. I would like to thank Julian Thick for the tremendous job he has done over the last few years. With hard work from everyone at Aintree and its sister courses in the north west, I believe we can build on this success in the coming years."

Further restructuring to the JCR management was revealed, with Dickon White to take on the newly created role of group betting director.

White, who is currently managing director at Haydock, will start in September with the brief of maximising the group's Totepool relationship with Betfred, while developing and maintaining relationships with the betting and gaming industries.

White said: "During my 14 years at Haydock Park and Aintree, I have had the opportunity to develop strong relationships and an understanding of the challenges within this sector of the racing industry.

"I look forward to developing our partnerships with both on-course and off-course operators, to exploit mutually beneficial opportunities now and in the future."

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