Simon Claisse to step down as Cheltenham clerk later this year

Wed 16 Jun 2021

Simon Claisse, one of the most respected Clerks of the Course in British Racing, is to stand down at the end of 2021 having clerked 20 Festival meetings at Cheltenham Racecourse, The Jockey Club announced today.

Clerk of the Course at Cheltenham Racecourse and South West Head of Racing for The Jockey Club, Simon joined the course in 1999 and has clerked at the Home of Jump Racing since 2000, playing a fundamental role in the development of The Festival and all other racing fixtures at the course, as well as Jump Racing as a whole.

Claisse’s tenure has coincided with many great equine champions gracing the Cheltenham turf. These have included Best Mate, Kauto Star, Denman, Al Boum Photo, Big Buck’s, Quevega, Tiger Roll, Altior, Sprinter Sacre, Istabraq, Baracouda and Hurricane Fly.

Simon Claisse has worked for the Jockey Club for 32 years
Simon Claisse has worked for the Jockey Club for 32 years

In his current role Simon has played a key role in helping to develop a number of clerks and other professionals within the sport, supporting their career development and success. This includes several clerks working at The Jockey Club’s racecourses today and at Goodwood and Chester. He has been instrumental in raising the bar when it comes to horse welfare and the raceday experience for all horsemen. He has encouraged ownership through the establishment of The Jockey Club South West syndicate, introducing and developing the Cheltenham Bloodstock sales hosted by Tattersalls and championing excellence within the sport through The McCoys, where he is part of the judging panel.

He previously spent a decade working for The Jockey Club in a national role heading the racecourse department of what was then British Racing’s regulator where he was responsible for the introduction of the bypassing of obstacles firstly at Point-to-Points and then on licensed racecourses. More recently Simon has been Chairman of the Point-to-Point Authority and prior to that Chairman of the Point-to-Point Owners and Riders Association.

Simon will remain in charge of clerking duties when Cheltenham’s new season opens at The Showcase on 22nd and 23rd October before handing on the baton to his successor by the end of the year.

Simon Claisse said:

“By the time our new season begins in October I will have worked for The Jockey Club for 32 very fulfilling and rewarding years, with over two decades at Cheltenham where it has been an honour and a privilege to have played a part in the development and on-going success of the racecourse and in particular The Festival. Throughout my career in racing I have been blessed to have had the support of wonderful colleagues and teams who together with the horsemen have been instrumental in our and jump racing's success over the past two decades. Having clerked my 20th Festival I feel now is the right time to step aside and seek new challenges within racing or business whilst I still have the opportunity to do so.”

Ian Renton, Managing Director, West Region for The Jockey Club, said:

“Simon has been an incredible servant to Cheltenham, The Jockey Club and Jump Racing. He has succeeded consistently in one of the most high profile and pressurised jobs in our sport, and I know I speak for his colleagues and so many within our industry when saying ‘thank you for everything you have done’. Simon has chosen to stand down at the end of this year and after completing 20 Festivals. We wish him happiness and continued success in the future. We will now launch a process to appoint his successor at the Home of Jump Racing.”

Paul Nicholls, current and 12-time champion trainer, paid tribute:

“Simon is the complete professional and has been a huge asset to Cheltenham and The Jockey Club. His skill in getting the ground right was exceptional and he could not have been more helpful to me throughout his time at Cheltenham.”

He was joined by The Festival’s most successful ever trainer, Willie Mullins, who said:

“Simon is very easy to work with and always has the ground in impeccable condition for The Festival. He invariably makes one feel very welcome and values our opinion. It is hard to believe he has been at Cheltenham for over 20 years and it is testament to his successful time there that he has been such a pleasure to deal with throughout this time.”

Nicky Henderson, six-time champion trainer, added:

“In all my training career, I have only known two Clerks of the Course at Cheltenham, Philip Arkwright and Simon Claisse. Life is never easy as a Clerk of the Course and since Simon took over from Philip he has done a wonderful job. There have been hundreds of meetings and countless Festivals where Simon has had to make very difficult decisions and he has done a brilliant job – you can never please all the people all the time as everyone will have a different opinion. Simon has exemplified the two most important things in his role – he has always been incredibly helpful and always truthful. I have much enjoyed working with him and wish him all the best for the future.”

Sulekha Varma, Clerk of the Course at Aintree Racecourse and North West Head of Racing for The Jockey Club, said:

“I have been hugely grateful for the wise support and guidance Simon has given me throughout my career to date. He was the first person to interview me prior to my appointment as a trainee Clerk of the Course, and has supported me right through to my first Grand National meeting in April this year. Many others will have similar stories and I know all will wish Simon very well for the future.”

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