Ahead of Cheltenham Festival next week, we caught up with Jack Royle, Head of Partnership Sales at The Jockey Club, to talk about his role and career to date.
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
I’m Jack Royle, Head of Partnership Sales for The Jockey Club – the largest commercial operator in British horseracing, responsible for some of the nation’s biggest events, including Cheltenham Festival, Randox Grand National and The Derby.
I’ve been working on the commercial side of sport for over a decade, which started with a role at England Rugby Travel, selling and delivering the supporter travel programme for events and tournaments all over the world. Following Rugby World Cup 2015, I moved to Worcester Warriors in the Premiership as Group Business Development Manager and then with a desire to work in Partnership Sales across multiple sports I accepted an agency role before going onto join The Jockey Club.
What do you do in your current role?
I lead a team that’s responsible for securing new partners and maximising on The Jockey Club’s commercial partnership portfolio. Our group consists of 15 racecourses spread across the country, which between them run over 340 race days annually and host plenty of other events in between these too. The sport really is always on, with ITV broadcasting over 90 days of racing a year.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I’ve been sports mad from an early age, but my route into sports business wasn’t the usual one. Having graduated with a MSc degree in Sports Strength & Conditioning, my first role out of university was coaching in professional Rugby League. I did that for a few years, before I got involved in some of the commercial aspects of the club and loved that side of it, which led me where I am now.
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
We often fixate on the end goal (and it’s important to have one) but winning new business (certainly for the types of deals we’re in the market for) is more often a long game and built around relationships, these things don’t happen overnight. By having a process and celebrating the wins along the way, I’ve found there’s greater clarity among the team and importantly the energy stays high.
“Normal” isn’t a thing in sport so what does an “average” week look like for you?
You’re right, next week I’ll have a day in the office and then it’s 4 days of Cheltenham Festival… But, in an average week I’ll catch up with the team and review objectives for the week, where between us we’ll be doing a mix of prospecting, identifying sales opportunities, market research, producing proposals, prepping for meetings, presenting, hosting potential clients, onboarding new partners, or supporting the wider team in delivering our events.
What excites you most about Cheltenham Festival next week?
It’s the 3rd biggest sporting event in the UK, with more than a quarter of a million people attending and millions more people tuning in on TV. The best jump horses, jockeys, owners, trainers. That famous Cheltenham Roar as the first race gets underway and the crowd cheer. The Orchard enclosure, home to incredible brands like Boodles, Sunseeker, Nyetimber, Bentley and more, with their activations. The Guinness Village! The stories. Who will win the Boodles Gold Cup this year?
I can’t nail it all in words, and I certainly can’t put it down to one thing, the whole 4 days are epic. If you’ve never been, go and experience it.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
In horseracing male and female jockeys compete in the same field, for the same prize money, with stars like Hollie Doyle and Rachael Blackmore inspiring future generations. We’re unique in that sense, and the sport is starting to receive great coverage because of recent successes, such as Rachael winning BBC Sports Personality’s World Sport Star of the Year following her Randox Grand National victory.
Women’s sport more broadly is experiencing historic popularity growth, it’s booming with attendance and broadcast records, increased sponsorship deals and more. With a young son and daughter, it’s exciting to think about the impact this will have on them as they both grow up and what the sporting landscape may look like in the next 10 years.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Do it. Be open minded, play to your strengths and you will inevitably find your passion and what you’re good at.
Finally, sport is a hectic industry, what do you do to switch off?
I have two young children to keep myself and the wife busy outside of work, so love having family time. If I’m not out walking the dog, I’m often finding something to do outside. I love a challenge too – I’ve taken on a few, like the 3 Peaks, I also played in a world record rugby match for over 30 hours, and a couple of years ago I did the Coast 2 Coast cycling challenge with the brother-in-law.
How to connect with Jack Royle…
You can connect with me on LinkedIn!
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