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Joint MDS to battle for one job at Newbury

10 September 2013


THE two senior executives who have been running Newbury racecourse in tandem for the past five years are set to battle each other for one position following the board's decision to appoint a chief executive.

Joint managing directors Stephen Higgins and Sarah Hordern were unwilling to comment on the scrapping of their positions, but both will be applying for the new job for which the London-based head-hunting firm Nolan Partners is being asked to compile a list of outside candidates.

Higgins has been the public face of the Berkshire track since taking up the post in June 2008, since when he has handled the racing and events side of the business.

Before arriving at Newbury in 2006 he was managing director of Wincanton racecourse for five years, having started his career as development project manager at Capita PLC where he worked on the redevelopment at Chelsea Football Club's Stamford Bridge ground, among other projects.

Hordern was appointed at the same time, taking responsibility for finance and racecourse redevelopment, including the building of 1,500 homes over a ten-year period, a project that is now well under way and will ensure the venue's future.

She previously worked for the bloodstock department of PricewaterhouseCoopers, and was part of the team that created Racing UK.

Being a publicly quoted company, Newbury's directors were compelled to make a public announcement after spending several months mulling over when to adopt a more conventional business approach of having one chief, rather than two.

In a statement, the company said: "The board of Newbury racecourse plc have taken a decision to appoint a chief executive. Since 2008 the racecourse has had a successful management structure of joint managing directors.

"During this period the redevelopment and land sale strategy was implemented to enhance shareholder value and secure the long term future of the racecourse.

"The board believes a more traditional structure of a sole chief executive is best suited for the company as it moves into the next stage of implementing its strategy to redevelop the racecourse as a year-round racing, entertainment and events business.

"A further announcement will be made once an appointment has been made."

It is understood no time period has been placed on the process, but the new chief executive is likely to be in place this side of Christmas.

Newbury racecourse is an independent company with the board chaired by Dominic Burke, chief executive of Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group PLC and owner of Whitley Stud in Gloucestershire.

The non-executive directors include a number of prominent racing figures including former Jockey Club senior steward Christopher Spence, Harry Herbert, Lady Lloyd Webber, Erik Penser and Brian Stewart-Brown.

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