There is a breath of Antipodean fresh air blowing through Warwick as general manager Andre Klein puts his stamp on the 300-year-old racecourse, writes David Hucker.
It quickly becomes apparent that the years spent in Australia and New Zealand have rubbed off on Klein, who comes across as a relaxed individual with an outgoing, friendly manner.
We have an enthusiastic group and want to take Warwick forward.Andre Klein
Although born in Stratford, he moved with his family to the Lambourn area when he was six.
After graduating from Edinburgh University, he went backpacking to Australia and landed a job with the South Australian Jockey Club based in Adelaide, setting up their website and becoming their media link.
After four years, he moved to the Otago Racing Club in Dunedin on New Zealand’s south island. His success led to his forming a consortium of 14 racecourses to promote and expand the sport. When he moved to England, three of them were still in the top 12 for attendances in the country, something that gives a hint as to what the future may hold for Warwick.
He was contacted by Paul Bittar, later to become chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority, to restructure jump racing across both islands.
He has a high regard for the horses there, although they are no longer as sought after by British trainers, who look to Ireland and France for their young bloodstock.
“I don’t understand why New Zealand-bred horses are not fashionable any more, as when they have competed on level terms with other countries, they have shown what they can do,” said Klein.
The Warwick role came at a good time for his family. Klein had brought touring parties to England for the Cheltenham Festival and had always taken in a meeting at Warwick.
“I knew the landscape and when I saw the advert for the Warwick job, it looked the right time for me to make the move.
“My wife and children came over for eight months in 2014. During that stay our son Felix secured himself a place in Great Britain Olympic free skiing development squad and it suddenly made much more sense to be based here full-time.”
Klein is clear where his priorities lay and that is with the local community.
“The racecourse is too distant from the community and we need to build links and work with others. My meetings with the council, businesses and sporting groups have been positive and encouraging.”
He wants to raise the membership base with deals for locals and businesses and to follow other courses in offering affordable racehorse ownership to increase involvement.
Klein is also keen to enhance the main racecourse entrance, but any proposals will not include the controversial plan to site a Premier Inn there. “The hotel concept is dead,” he said.
“My focus in all my jobs has been on team building. We have an enthusiastic group of new people here who are not dragged down by history and want to take Warwick forward.”