Ian Renton has paid tribute to Edward Gillespie as he prepares to take over the running of Cheltenham Racecourse from him.
Renton started his role as Regional Director of Jockey Club Racecourses for Cheltenham and the South West last week but is having a five-week handover period with Gillespie, which will encompass Cheltenham's first race meeting of the new season on October 19 and 20.
Renton said: "Edward has been in charge for exactly 100 Festival days and has worked tirelessly, enthusiastically and with great passion to make Cheltenham the success it is today.
"Edward succeeded in building up attendances to record levels - as witnessed last season. There were almost a quarter million people here at The Festival and around 70,000 for the three days of The Open meeting.
"I think Edward has also ensured the prize money and the facilities for the horses and the connections - owners, trainers and jockeys - are at a level that continues to allow Cheltenham to attract the best steeplechasers and hurdlers to what is undoubtedly the home of Jump racing.
"As well as the improved facilities and attendances at Cheltenham, Edward should also be credited with bringing much of the passion and unique atmosphere which is what Cheltenham is all about. It is a very special place for all of us."