The Jockey Club has confirmed the appointment of Stuart Williamson as the organisation’s new Chief Corporate Affairs Officer.
Williamson, who arrives from Nationwide Building Society following a spell as Director of Communications, will oversee the external and internal communications for the biggest employer in British horseracing.
The Jockey Club
With 15 UK famous racecourses under its wing, The Jockey Club is the biggest commercial horseracing organization in Great Britain. On any given day, you’ll find one or more of its racecourses featured in the daily racecards, which showcase the race meetings for the coming week.
Some of the biggest events in UK horseracing are staged in venues owned by The Jockey Club, namely the Randox Grand National, the Cazoo Derby and even the world-renowned Cheltenham Festival.
A “Pivotal Time”
Williamson’s role will also cover the reputational management of the historic Jockey Club brand, which dates back as far as 1750.
Prior to his role with Nationwide Building Society, Williamson worked for communication consultancies representing the interests of major nationwide brands, including Lloyds TSB, British Gas and Heinz. He succeeds Scott Bowers, who has departed The Jockey Club following 12 years in the role.
Williamson described his new employers as having a “unique place” in British sport and “wider society”. Williamson believes it is a “pivotal time” for the UK horseracing sector, as it seeks to futureproof its industry for the next generation of spectators and bettors alike.
Nevin Truesdale, CEO of The Jockey Club, said Williamson is a “talented corporate affairs and communications professional” and had been the standout candidate following a “highly competitive [recruitment] process”.
The role of The Jockey Club in British horseracing
The Jockey Club was created initially as a “high society” social club. It has since become one of the gatekeepers for horseracing across the UK, helping to oversee a string of rules and licensing implementations for the good of the sport.
Prior to 2006, The Jockey Club had a significant say in the sport. However, the formation of the new British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has since meant that its focus has switched to the ownership and evolution of its racecourse facilities nationwide.
In fact, The Jockey Club plays host to four of the five ‘Classics’ in British flat horse racing:
- The Epsom Derby
The Epsom Derby is known as the “Blue Riband” race of the turf flat race season. It is also the second of three legs in the so-called Triple Crown of British horseracing – two of which are held at racecourses owned by The Jockey Club. It’s recently been sponsored by Cazoo, an online car marketplace consisting many of the leading car manufacturers in the UK.
- The Epsom Oaks
The Epsom Oaks is a popular Group 1 race staged at Epsom Downs. It’s the second-oldest of the British Classics, behind the St Leger. The Oaks Stakes is rather unique in that it’s restricted to fillies only. The prize purse in 2022 was an impressive £550,000 for the winner.
- The Newmarket 2,000 Guineas
The 2,000 Guineas is one of the biggest and best events at Newmarket Racecourse each year. It’s the first leg of the Triple Crown (along with the Epsom Derby and the St Leger). The 2,000 Guineas had a prize purse of £500,000 for the winner in 2022. Since 2001, its prize purse has been equalised with the 1,000 Guineas race also held at Newmarket.
- The Newmarket 1,000 Guineas
The 1,000 Guineas is staged at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile course, just like the 2,000 Guineas. This event is exclusively for three-year-old fillies. This event has inspired many other races exclusively for three-year-old fillies, with the Irish and German 1,000 Guineas some of the biggest alternatives in the European horseracing scene. Both the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas have been run under rules set by Epsom Derby co-founder Sir Charles Bunbury.