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Gillespie relishing return to the rank-and-file racegoers

By The Citizen  |  Posted: November 15, 2012

Ian Renton and Edward Gillespie

Ian Renton and Edward Gillespie

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EDWARD Gillespie is looking forward to enjoying a low profile at Cheltenham Racecourse this weekend.

It is the first meeting at the venue since the 60-year-old stood down as managing director on November 2.

After 32 years at the racecourse he plans to stay out of the spotlight and mix with the tens of thousands of racegoers at the showpiece meeting.

"I'm planning to watch the cross-country race on Friday from the middle of the racecourse, which I've never done before," he said.

"I am going to enjoy the races and keep myself to myself.

"I was very conscious coming out of the winner's enclosure after the last race on the Saturday of the Showcase that from now on I'll have no right to be in there unless I have a runner, or perhaps with a trainer or with an owner."

Gillespie is relishing the chance to begin a new chapter in his life in a new role.

No longer does he have to spend all winter focused on running Prestbury Park and dealing with the pressures that inevitably brings.

"What I'm trying to do is spend time doing things that I wish I'd had the time to do before, but the style of the life I've been leading has simply prevented me from doing so.

"At the moment I'm really enjoying spending time with people I've not been able to spend time with, and also enjoying the wider range of a winter in Gloucestershire.

"I'm going to see racing at two racecourses I've never been to, Taunton and Folkestone, before Christmas.

"I have absolute faith that whatever is meant to be in the next five years will come my way.

"I'd love to be involved in some aspect of horseracing, but probably a different aspect to which I've been involved for the past 40 years, and I'd love to get involved in other aspects of Gloucestershire life. I know I will.

"I've had several offers of doing something for nothing but I'd like to have the odd offer of doing something for something.

"I'll have a better idea about what I'm going to do next by the end of March next year because I haven't for 40-something years had any time to enjoy a winter really because I literally confined myself to barracks.

"From the beginning of February I hardly left the county.

"I wouldn't fill up my car with petrol for five or six weeks because all I was doing was going to and from home and Cheltenham Racecourse."

With his experience of running a multi-million pound company, it is surely long odds-on that it will not be too long before Gillespie is asked to embark a new project.

"These next five years are very precious to me because there's no other word for what I've done than retire," he said.

"I've stood down, in my own mind I've not retired. I've moved out of something I've been doing for 32 years and I've made myself available to do something different.

"Enough people have said to me that you'll never get approached to do anything else because they know they can't drag you away from Cheltenham Racecourse.

"So I have dragged myself away and now is there anything out there I can make a meaningful contribution to?

"I went to a big sports business breakfast in the city of London and met lots of interesting people.

"I was saying to them that I just hope someone may say to themselves that they've got this job in, say, hockey or baseball or something and think, 'I wonder if that funny fellow from Cheltenham Racecourse would be any good at solving this problem?'"

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