British horse racing is coming to terms with the loss of one its most respected administrators following the death of Sir Tristram Ricketts the morning of Nov. 7. Ricketts was 61.
Ricketts, the chief executive of the Horserace Betting Levy Board, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August but continued to work in his role while undergoing treatment. The HBLB collects the levy on bookmakers’ profits relating to horse racing in Great Britain and distributes the money to racing, supplying more than half of prize money.
Said levy board chairman Robert Hughes: “Many of us within the racing and betting industries will feel that Tristram’s death robs us of not just a great professional colleague, but a real and dear friend. That is a true testament of his stature.”
Educated at Winchester School and Magdalen College, Cambridge, Ricketts began his professional life working in the Greater London Council, where he became personal assistant to the leader, Desmond Plummer. Ricketts followed Plummer to the levy board in 1974 as assistant principal officer and remained within the organization until 1993, filling the positions of deputy secretary (1976-79), secretary (1980-84), and chief executive from 1984.
He left the levy board in 1993 to take on the role of chief executive of the newly formed British Horseracing Board, which took over British racing from the Jockey Club. Ricketts gained widespread respect and support within racing, but in 2000, BHB chairman Peter Savill appointed outsider Chris Reynolds as chief executive, and Ricketts was moved to the new post of secretary general.
Having played a key roll in the planned transformation of the BHB into the British Horseracing Authority, Ricketts returned to the levy board as chief executive in 2005.
Ricketts was well known around the world, and he included among his roles vice president of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities and chairman of the European Pattern Committee.
Louis Romanet, director-general of France Galop, said Ricketts “was a part of international racing for many years and was a true gentleman. He was kind and sensible and always a pleasure to work with. He always tried to prevent any disputes that can happen at international meetings and had such marvelous charm. We will greatly miss him.”