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David Thorpe is to step down as chairman of Arena Racing Company (Arc) at the end of April after nine years in the role, the racecourse group has revealed. Thorpe, who had previously chaired one of Arc’s forerunners Arena Leisure, became Arc chairman in April 2014 when he replaced Lord Michael Howard of Lympne, the former Conservative Party leader.

He has been a heavyweight figure in British racing politics for a number of years, having also been chairman of the Racecourse Association between 2004 and 2009 and a board member of both the BHA and the Levy Board.

Thorpe said: “It has been a significant source of pride to see the company flourish and grow over the past few years and we have assembled an incredibly smart, passionate and hard-working team. I am equally delighted to have been part of creating a new industry structure, a major improvement which should serve the sport well into the future.

“I am sure the company will only continue to get stronger and more successful over the coming years, and I am proud to have played a part in that foundation for growth. I will continue to be a passionate supporter and advocate for the business and the sport.”

Arc chief executive Martin Cruddace said: “David has played a pivotal role in the growth and transformation of the company over that time, and his detailed knowledge of the industry has been an enormous help. Both myself and our shareholders would like to thank him for his expertise, hard work and support, and completely understand his decision to step down. For me personally, he has been a source of constant support, counsel and guidance.

“David will remain a very good friend of both me and the company, and there will be a special welcome for him whenever he comes racing at our tracks.”