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Sandy Dudgeon takes over as Jockey Club senior steward with call for unity

The new senior steward of the Jockey Club has called for the sport's stakeholders to work together and address issues of trust that exist between them.

Sandy Dudgeon on Thursday succeeded Roger Weatherby in the role, which is equivalent to being non-executive chairman of the Jockey Club board and sets the strategic direction of the organisation. 

He said: "Wherever I look at our sport I see people passionate about racing and its success. I also see many differences of opinion about the best courses of action for its future, including for the thoroughbred breed, for the people who rely on the sport for their livelihoods and for those who gain so much enjoyment from following it. 

"We must listen to the diverse range of viewpoints in seeking the best outcomes for our sport. Then once a decision is made we all need to get behind it to achieve the best chance of success."

Dudgeon takes on the role with the sport facing financial challenges from falling media rights income and a surprise drop in levy yield and with horsemen wanting more transparency over racecourse income. The Jockey Club is British racing's largest commercial group and operates 15 racecourses.

Dudgeon continued: "We have many opportunities to grow our sport’s appeal and financial sustainability for all, while recognising we face some real challenges. 

"I think we need to address the various levels of trust that seem to exist amongst stakeholders in order to move forward. Now surely is the time for everyone to come together, respect each other’s views and work collaboratively to achieve long-term prosperity. 

"This will then be a very exciting time if we are bold enough to embrace more innovation, while protecting all the things that already make British racing such a wonderful sport."

Dudgeon, who will serve a five-year term, remains a director of Schroders' private wealth management business in Hong Kong. He was a leading amateur rider and first became a member of the Jockey Club in 1989.

There is set to be further change at the Jockey Club this year with chief executive Simon Bazalgette stepping down from the position.

Interviews of potential successors to Bazalgette are understood to have taken place in recent days.

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