It was announced today that Charles Barnett has been appointed Secretary General of the Large Independent Racecourse Group, which represents Ascot, Ayr, Chester, Goodwood, Newbury and York racecourses.
Barnett has widespread knowledge of the industry, having occupied a number of senior executive roles, and already represents the Large Independent Racecourses on the Racecourse Association Board, of which he is the Deputy Chairman, and the BHA's Members' Committee, which he will continue to do alongside this expanded role. His highly successful racecourse management career spanning more than 30 years included extended spells at Haydock Park, Chester, Cartmel, Aintree and Ascot. He will take up this newly created position with immediate effect.
Barnett's role will include representing the Large Independent Racecourses on racing industry matters and liaising with key external parties, such as the British Horseracing Authority, the Horserace Betting Levy Board (or its replacement) and the Racecourse Association, to ensure that the views of the Large Independents carry appropriate weight in industry discussions.
In 2015, the six racecourses which make up the Large Independents held 153 fixtures, (10.3% of the industry total), 56 of which were broadcast on terrestrial television, with a Total Prize Fund of £33.5m (25.3% of the total), total Executive and Sponsorship contribution of £20.6m (43.3% of the total) and total attendances of 1,838,024 (30.0% of the total). In addition, the racecourses staged 19 Group or Grade 1 races and attracted 333 overseas runners (all figures exclude British Champions Day at Ascot).
The Large Independents produced total turnover of £171.9m in 2015 and in the past 15 years have invested in excess of £400m in facilities.
William Derby, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course of York Racecourse, speaking ahead of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival, said: "By any measure, the Large Independent Racecourses are a hugely significant part of British Racing. There are a number of issues vital to the future of the industry on the horizon, including changes to the fixture list, funding and race programming. We are delighted to have appointed someone with Charles' experience and reputation to the position of Secretary General to represent us collectively."
David Brown, Managing Director of Ayr Racecourse, one of the three tracks in the group staging both Flat and Jump racing, added: "Maintaining focus on some of the biggest race meetings under both codes and the Levy replacement are two of the vital issues on which Charles has lifelong experience that can be used to amplify our representations."
Charles Barnett commented: "I am flattered to have been offered the opportunity to represent some of the country's most important and influential racecourses on major racing industry matters. With so much change on the horizon, we feel that it is vital that the views of the Large Independent Racecourses are taken firmly into account as decisions about the future of the industry as a whole are taken."