Ascot Appoints First Female Chief Executive: Vivien Currie

Ascot Racecourse announced the appointment of the first female chief executive in its 315-year history.

Located in the charming town of Berkshire, Ascot Racecourse is steeped in history and hosts arguably the most prestigious staying prize in the racing calendar, the Grade 1 Gold Cup, which is run over a distance of 2 miles and 4 furlongs on the Thursday of Royal Ascot.

Queen Anne founded Ascot Racecourse in 1711 after stumbling upon the area while out riding around Windsor Castle. According to historians, she saw potential in the grounds to allow “horses to gallop at full stretch”.

By 1752 the popularity of attending races at Ascot had steadily increased, with numerous social circles across the country flocking to the racecourse. Almost 70 years later, in 1813, Parliament passed an Act of Enclosure to secure the future of racing at Ascot Racecourse, with the first Royal Procession commencing twelve years later.

Ascot Racecourse is dual-purpose, meaning it hosts Flat and Jumps racing, with National Hunt Racing first staged at the venue in 1966. Some of the most popular racehorses built their reputation at Ascot, including 6-time Queen Alexandra Stakes winner Brown Jack, Queen Elizabeth II’s Gold Cup winner Estimate and four-time Gold Cup champion Yeats.

Royal Ascot is the most valuable meeting in the UK and continues to attract some of the world’s finest racehorses to compete for a prize pot worth a record £15.64 million in 2022.

In the current era, Ascot Racecourse welcomes approximately 600,000 people each year, half of which visit the crown jewel in the racing calendar, Royal Ascot.

And now the role of CEO, which Guy Henderson currently fills, will be succeeded by Vivien Currie MBE. She will become only the fourth chief executive of this prestigious racecourse.

Royal Ascot Parade Ring

Vivien Currie succeeds Guy Henderson as CEO

Guy Henderson will step down from his role as Ascot CEO on June 30th 2022, following this year’s Royal Meeting, which will be his 8th at the helm.

It remains business as usual as the racing programme builds towards Royal Ascot 2022 in the Platinum Jubilee year, with Currie set to work alongside Henderson and learn the ropes before stepping into the role.

The announcement of Vivien Currie’s appointment has been warmly welcomed, with Her Majesty’s Representative at Ascot and Chairman Sir Francis Brooke stating:

“Vivien’s career is a compelling combination of strategic, commercial and racecourse management experience, making her an outstanding candidate for the role.

“The whole Board is very much looking forward to welcoming her to Ascot.”

Who is Vivien Currie MBE?

Vivien Currie started her career as a chartered accountant with Ernst & Young before switching over to Damovo and advancing to Executive Vice President, Global Sales & Solutions.

She became CEO of Livingston FC and sat on the Scottish Football League Management Committee before switching over to horseracing. Currie will step down from her role as Chief Executive of Hamilton Park Racecourse in April 2022 and head over to Ascot.

During her 13-year tenure at Hamilton, Vivien Currie MBE developed a reputation for broadening commercial focus and diversifying the racecourse into an award-winning venue within the business and horseracing communities.

The Duke of Cambridge Prince William honoured her with an MBE last November for her outstanding racecourse management, business, and charity services.

Most recently, she headed the completion of a £10 million on-site hotel, which boasts 118 rooms and created 20 more jobs despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The new development is projected to generate an additional £5.9 million in annual visitor revenue and deliver a significant economic boost to the surrounding area.

Between 2016 – 2019, Currie raised more than £35,000 for Marie Curie Cancer Care and supports other charitable causes in her personal time.

Her appointment at Ascot Racecourse has also been celebrated by one of Britain’s leading racehorse trainers Mark Johnston, who commented on Currie’s positive influence at Hamilton.

Besides continuing with ambitious plans to build a highly-acclaimed hotel, she also improved the quality of racing for owners, trainers, jockeys and stable staff at Hamilton Park Racecourse.

After just two years at the Scottish racecourse, Vivien was appointed as Non-Executive Director of the Racecourse Association – which she served on for six years and sat on the Members’ Nominated Director of the British Horseracing Authority between 2016-19.

Ascot Chairman Sir Francis Brooke Bt. commented:

“Vivien is very familiar with the structure of British racing, from the point of view of time spent at Hamilton Park and the BHA and RCA boards.”

Of her new appointment, Vivien said:

“I am delighted to have been chosen as the next Chief Executive of Ascot Racecourse and to be joining the team for what will be a very exciting year ahead. This role is a culmination of all the experiences I have had in my professional career to date, and I am looking forward enormously to working with Guy in the build-up to Royal Ascot in June.”

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