Bobby Zen

Julie Harrington is to leave her role as chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) at the end of this year.

In a statement issued by the BHA on Tuesday, Harrington, who has been in the role for three and a half years, said, “With so much now in place to develop and grow the Industry Strategy, which will secure a brighter future for British horseracing, it felt like the right time to move on and let someone else steer the sport through its next exciting phase.

“It has been a huge privilege to lead the BHA during what has been a period of real change as the sport has developed and implemented shared strategies for a sustainable future, and an ability to speak with one united voice.”

During her time in the role, the BHA has undergone a significant change in governance structure and has laid out its initial plans for an industry strategy on behalf of the sport. Harrington has presided over the introduction of Premier Racing, which began at the start of 2024 and has been greeted with a mixed response from industry participants. A trial of Sunday evening racing through the winter was recently discontinued. 

The BHA has been involved in lengthy discussions with the government and the betting industry regarding Levy reform, and it is understood that an impending agreement was recently scuppered by the announcement of the general election, which is scheduled to take place on July 4. Harrington is to remain involved in those negotiations when they resume after the election.

Prior to working for the BHA, Harrington held roles within the Football Association and British Cycling as well as being managing director of Uttoxeter racecourse during eight years spent working for Northern Racing.

Her decision to leave the BHA comes after last week’s announcement from the Jockey Club that Nevin Truesdale will step down as its chief executive at the end of the year. In April, Rod Street left his role as chief executive officer of Great British Racing, though he is continuing at the head of the British Champions Series until the end of the Flat season. BHA chairman Joe Saumarez Smith will step down at the end of May 2025, with the recruitment process for his replacement already underway. Continuing the major shake-up of senior positions within British racing, Charlie Liverton resigned as chief executive of the Racehorse Owners Association in May and Louise Norman has been installed as interim chief executive.

Harrington continued, “I love working in horseracing, it is an amazing sport to be involved in. I will always be a fan and you can expect to see me at the races in the years ahead. I am proud of the progress the industry has made over the past three years, especially in improving the governance structure, and I hope that racing’s stakeholders will continue to work together cooperatively to attract new audiences, further improve the customer experience and grow the sport.

“I am confident that if the sport continues to foster the sense of unity and shared purpose that we have developed over the past few years then great things can be achieved.

 “My future plans are likely to include a move to a varied non-executive career. Although I took the decision to stand down some time ago, I have agreed to stay on until the end of year to allow a smooth transition to a new CEO.

 “The BHA Board is already engaged in the search for Joe’s successor as chair and informing the board of my intentions now gives the nominations committee the opportunity to plan an orderly handover, consider the complementary skills of candidates and allow the new chair to be part of the final stages of CEO recruitment.”

Commenting on Harrington’s impending departure, Saumarez Smith said, “Julie has been a fantastic chief executive for the BHA and has done a huge amount for the industry since her appointment. We have been lucky to have her in charge and she will be difficult to replace. I am grateful she has agreed to stay on to the end of the year to allow us to recruit her replacement and to ensure a smooth transition.

 “During Julie’s tenure we have completely changed the governance of the sport and the BHA’s role within it. Her influencing skills, often behind-the-scenes, have been key to that change and also in the positive adjustments made to the Gambling Act White Paper that posed such a threat to our sport.

“Four years at the top of any sport demands total focus, concentration and enormous amounts of energy and Julie has delivered all of these, in what at times has been a challenging stakeholder and political environment.”


The post Julie Harrington to Leave BHA at End of 2024 appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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