Aintree managing director John Baker to quit ahead of the National

John Baker is to stand down from his role as managing director of Aintree racecourse before April's Randox Health Grand National Festival.

Baker, who said he intended to take a short break, took responsibility for running Aintree in 2012, alongside Carlisle and Haydock, as part of a regional restructure introduced by Jockey Club Racecourses.

He was made managing director of Aintree in 2018. During his tenure Aintree enhanced its facilities and racegoer experience and boosted the purse for the world's most famous steeplechase to £1 million.

Baker, 50, said: "I have absolutely loved my 17 years working for Jockey Club Racecourses. I joined as general manager at Carlisle, where I have some wonderful memories, and as a little boy watching the Grand National with my granddad.

"Who would have thought one day I would head up the team tasked with delivering what I consider to be the world's greatest race?

"I'm incredibly proud of the fantastic Aintree and North West team, and I would also like to thank everyone outside Jockey Club Racecourses who have supported what we've been doing; it really makes a difference."

He added: "Once I made the decision to stand down in favour of a short break after 30 years of continuous work we agreed that would be ahead of this year's festival, but not before a successful Grand National weights event. With a great team in place I leave knowing the Randox Health Grand National Festival is in excellent hands."

Dickon White, north west regional director of JCR, said: "John has been a wonderful servant to Aintree and deserves huge credit in particular for the way he has developed the UK's most watched horse race and the world-class racing festival that surrounds it.

"John can be incredibly proud of his role in a really important seven years at Aintree. I know I speak for our whole team when I say we wish him the very best in his next challenge."

Aintree chairman Rose Paterson thanked Baker for his "invaluable enthusiasm and dedication" and added that he had "played a huge part in setting the Randox Health Grand National on a positive and confident footing."