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Making an executive decision

There has been a lot of change at the top of our industry in recent years, and this period of transformation is set to continue as, after 20 years at the helm of the Association of Irish Racecourses (AIR), its chief executive officer Paddy Walsh is set to retire in March 2023.

The board of AIR has appointed Principal Connections – executive search to lead the mission to find their next CEO. Principal Connections – executive search is Ireland’s leading retained executive search and leadership consulting firm, and is part of Agilium Worldwide LLC, one of the world’s top global executive search organisations.

In this week’s column, we are sharing with you details of the post and how to apply for this very prominent industry role.

The Association of Irish Racecourses was formally established in 1964 as the representative body of Ireland’s 26 racecourses. Its main functions are to develop policies in line with overall objectives set out by its members, and also to represent their interests to Government, the media and other industry bodies, both domestic and international, who interface with the industry or require the agreement of racecourse proprietors for commercial purposes.

Reporting to the chair and the board of directors directly, the chief executive officer will be responsible for bringing vision, leadership and effective management to ensure that the Association continues to deliver on its strategic plan, remains fit for purpose, and delivers on its mission. The CEO will take responsibility for the effective day-to-day running of the Association.

The role involves liaison with the board on governance, the delivery of the strategy, and the achievement of objectives. The successful candidate will engage with and influence a broad stakeholder community, while demonstrating commercial acumen and working within the values and ethos of the Association.

Key requirements
The ideal candidate will be an experienced senior executive who will bring strong strategic, leadership and operational capabilities. In addition to possessing an affinity with the objectives of the Association, the appointee will require well-honed relationship, financial and commercial skills, coupled with the ability to influence a diverse group of stakeholders.

An exceptional communicator, the appointee will champion the sport of horse racing. The position can be based in Dublin or Kildare.

To apply
Candidates should email a current curriculum vitae, in the strictest confidence, to Darren McCabe, a partner of the retained executive search partners, Principal Connections – executive search, and the address is Please quote Reference AIR and send the application on or before 12 noon on Friday, October 21st, 2022. For a confidential discussion please contact Darren McCabe at +353 (0)1 703 88 92.

An attractive remuneration package will be on offer for the selected candidate, and AIR is an equal opportunities employer. A detailed briefing prospectus, including job and person specifications, is available on request. Candidates for this post will be sourced through both an advertised selection and executive search process.

Paddy Walsh will formally retire on March 31st 2023, following a detailed handover and induction process with the incoming chief executive officer. If you feel you have what it takes to fulfil this exciting role, representing the interests of those who own and operate Ireland’s 26 racecourses, then don’t delay and apply today.

For further information about the Association of Irish Racecourses, its work, ethos and vision, visit

Calendar update

Please note there is an additional fixture taking place at Killarney Racecourse on Monday, October 10th. Earlier this week they received a floating all flat card from the fixtures committee. For details visit

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