PLANS are in the pipeline to create a brand new two-day festival that will help put Warwick Racecourse on the racing map.
New general manager, Andre Klein, is very much looking ahead as he takes the reins on his first season in charge at the historic venue.
Born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Klein moved to Australia in 1990 where he took on a marketing role at the South Australia Jockey Club in Adelaide.
But he is back in his home county and in an exclusive interview with the Observer he revealed his plans and aspirations for the season ahead and beyond.
The two-day-festival would take place six weeks prior to the prestigious Cheltenham Festival in March and would hope to attract some of the outstanding equine talent the country has to offer.
“We have some fantastic races throughout January and February including the Classic Chase, Kingmaker Chase and Leamington Novices’ Hurdle which attract high-profile runners,” he told keen racegoer and Observer reporter Shaun Reynolds.
“We have the potential to go places at Warwick, we’ve got a great working team, fantastic facilities and a central location for punters to travel to.”
After a spell in the Midlands, Klein moved to Lamborne during his youth – further enhancing his passion for the sport after taking from his grandparents.
Recalling his first racecourse memory as Andy Pandy’s effort in the 1977 Grand National, Klein said the racecourse has plenty more to offer – particularly with the addition of local trainer Dan Skelton on board as racecourse ambassador.
“We have great races here, though we’re prepared to offer the public a lot more,” Klein continued.
“We’re working hard on getting the students involved – for me there’s nothing better than having a pint, putting a bet on and spending a great day out with your mates.
“With Coventry and Warwick University on our doorstep, it’s a huge opportunity to attract a young audience.
“We’re working closely with the council, local sports clubs and want people to be proud of the fact that there’s a Jockey Club Racecourse on their doorstep.”
Another ambition of Klein’s is to bring horses over from New Zealand – where he’s spent the last 16 years working in the nation’s racing industry.
Klein believes the talent of New Zealand’s runners is enough to see them appear at the Cheltenham Festival in coming years – and he wants them at Warwick too.
He added: “The majority of jockey’s that have raced in both England and New Zealand are surprised at the talent down under.
“One of my goals is to get some New Zealand runners over to Warwick, many believe that New Zealand thoroughbreds are slow – this is not the case.
“Similar to Warwick, courses in New Zealand have huge potential with a young, enthusiastic, working team.”