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BHA appoints Julie Harrington to succeed Rust as next chief executive

Julie Harrington: proud to take on leadership role at BHA
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"The right person, for the right job, at the right time," was how Julie Harrington was described on Tuesday when the BHA confirmed the identity of its next chief executive.

Harrington, the head of British Cycling, is to succeed Nick Rust in the new year and will become the first woman to lead British racing's governing body.

However, she is no stranger to 75 High Holborn having been a BHA board member between 2014 and 2019.

She had emerged as the leading external candidate not long after the job was advertised in April and headhunters SRI appointed.

Harrington, 51, had also previously been managing director at Uttoxeter and operations director at the Northern Racing group - now part of Arena Racing Company - before joining the Football Association where as group operations director she was responsible for running both Wembley Stadium and the Football Association's centre of excellence St George's Park.

She then joined British Cycling in 2017 which was dealing with controversies surrounding anti-doping policy and accusations of a culture of bullying in the sport.

The BHA described her as one of the most experienced leaders in sport, "with a strong background in consumer, operational and regulatory roles, and a clear understanding of the financial challenges facing participants".

Harrington said: "I’m so excited to be coming home to racing and playing my part helping this great sport to achieve a prosperity from which everyone benefits. I know how important collaboration across racing has been over the past few months and I look forward to working with colleagues from all parts of the sport.

"The BHA and its team of dedicated officials do a great job in keeping racing safe, clean and fair. I am proud to take on this leadership role in such a well-regulated sport, which enriches the lives of horses and people, and has a special place at the centre of national life and our rural communities."

Harrington was appointed by the BHA nominations committee, which was chaired by Annamarie Phelps and included BHA director Andrew Merriam, Racecourse Association (RCA) chair Maggie Carver and the then Racehorse Owners Association president Nicholas Cooper.

BHA chair Annamarie Phelps: "We've got the right person"

Phelps, the BHA chair, said she was looking forward to working closely with Harrington. She added: "This is a vital leadership role for the organisation and British racing.

"Julie’s hands-on knowledge of horseracing, coupled with her governance and business experience, make her the ideal person to carry on with the task of restoring sustainable prosperity after the Covid crisis. We’ve got the right person, for the right job, at the right time."

Harrington will join the BHA on January 4 after completing her notice period at British Cycling, with Rust continuing to lead the governing body as it works with the Racecourse Association (RCA) and Horsemen's Group to tackle the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the sport.

The BHA said a revised industry plan was due to be published "shortly".    

Phelps added: "Nick and his team are working closely with the RCA and the Horsemen’s Group to get racing through the next phase of Covid-19, to  bring back the public, and support our owners and investors in the sport. 

"There’ll be no let-up over the coming months and the sport will see a seamless transition to our new CEO. I want to thank all those at the BHA and the industry bodies who are working so hard and I'm confident that racing will continue to lead the way towards a full resumption of sport."

British Cycling chair Frank Slevin said Harrington left with the best wishes of everyone at the organisation. He added: "With Julie as chief executive officer, and thanks to a strong leadership team, British Cycling has made great strides towards our ambition of becoming a world-leading governing body.

"We have bolstered our integrity and compliance processes, strengthened our regional structures to better develop grassroots cycle sport and established a firm financial footing with a sound cost base."

Read more on this story:

Six big issues which Julie Harrington will face as the next BHA chief executive (£)

Who is the new BHA chief executive Julie Harrington? (£)

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I'm so excited to be coming home to racing and playing my part helping this great sport to achieve a prosperity from which everyone benefits
E.W. Terms