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Claisse lands Cheltenham job.

SIMON CLAISSE, currently manager of the Jockey Club's racecourse department and its point-to-point controller, has been appointed Cheltenham's clerk of the course from October 2000.

The post, one of the most high-profile on a British racecourse, is currently occupied by Philip Arkwright, who will have completed 23 years in the job when he reaches retirement age in that month.

Claisse, 38, was selected from a list of 75 applicants, including clerks of other racecourses. He will work alongside Arkwright for 12 months from this October before assuming full control.

While Arkwright combines his responsibilities at Cheltenham with a similar role at Haydock Park, Claisse will be employed full-time at Prestbury Park.

Edward Gillespie, Cheltenham's managing director, said yesterday: "We are making it a very full-time job, with a correspondingly different role.

"In addition to the care of the course, Simon will be dealing with the staff and estate, with equine and welfare matters, with research and development, and with working relationships with customer groups, including trainers, owners and jockeys.

"In terms of his credentials, no-one is better qualified. At the moment he is responsible for putting together the modules for training clerks of courses and organising seminars for stewards."

Claisse said: "I'm delighted to have been asked and looking forward to putting into practice some of the experience I have gained at the Jockey Club in relation to course preparation and maintenance."

Claisse has worked for the Jockey Club for 10 years but, much to his chagrin, his main public claim to fame lies in a bizarre incident at the Ashford Valley hunt's meeting at Charing, Kent early in April.

He was deemed to have breached the 'non-triers' rule when pulling up Forest Musk in a four-runner race won by the far superior Struggles Glory and, while he insisted that Forest Musk could not act on the firm ground, Claisse was fined pounds 125.

Most observers felt that Claisse had been harshly treated, but the sight of a Jockey Club official being rapped for not trying, not long after having addressed stewards on the need to act vigorously against non-triers, caused considerable amusement.

Known affectionately as The Fat Controller, Claisse made a plucky and determined return to race-riding after a spell out of the saddle and into doughnuts.

A long-time member of the Hursley Hambledon Hunt, Claisse is respected for his enthusiasm for the sport. Changes

introduced during his term of office include the monitoring of the condition of older horses, the extended use of video surveillance and controversial alterations to riders' allowances.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Ashforth, David
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 6, 1999
Words:423
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