Edward Gillespie, the managing director of Cheltenham racecourse received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Sports Industry Awards 2011 ceremony last night (Wednesday 11 May)

Edward received the award from champion jockey AP McCoy and former jockey turned presenter Mick Fitzgerald.

“I am honoured to receive this special award and feel that this is recognition of the talented and industrious people with whom I’ve worked over the last 30 years at Cheltenham,” said Mr Gillespie.

The sport of horseracing is one that I care passionately about and much of what has been achieved during my time at Cheltenham has been due to the brilliance of generations of horses, jockeys and trainers, who provide the magical spectacle that appeals to so many people.

“I am as enthusiastic about what we do as I have ever been and am looking forward enormously to challenges that face us in the years to come.”

AP McCoy said: “Edward has done so much for British racing, driving Jump racing’s most prestigious event of the season to new heights and creating a Festival with which nothing else competes. For me, the entire year is always focused on Cheltenham and this is because Edward has made it as great as it is today.

Simon Bazalgette, from The Jockey Club, added: “Under Edward’s leadership, the Cheltenham Festival has grown into one of the most iconic events in British sport today.”

Previous winners of the Lifetime Achievement Award include Brendan Foster, founder of the Great North Run in 2010, McLaren executive chairman Ron Dennis (2009), Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton (2008), former Sky Sports managing director Vic Wakeling (2007) and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone (2005).