Equine flu, Jim Best and the whip: what Nick Rust had to handle as BHA chief
BHA comes under scrutiny after Jim Best non-trier verdict quashed
Nick Rust on Tuesday announced his plans to step down from the role of BHA chief executive at the end of 2020. Here we look at some of the key moments during his time in charge.
Nick Rust, head of retail at the bookmaker Ladbrokes, is named the surprise successor to Paul Bittar as BHA CEO.
Nick Rust starts at the BHA having been initially forecast to start in April.
The BHA launches the Horseracing Bettors Forum (HBF) to seek greater input from punters into how to develop the sport for the benefit of those betting on it and for participants.
Plans for an Authorised Betting Partner scheme, to launch the following January, announced. The ABP scheme sought to exert pressure on offshore betting companies which did not contribute to the levy with those who signed up to the ABP, a voluntary payment in lieu of statutory levy payments, receiving benefits such as being able to sponsor races.
The Members Agreement, setting up a new tripartite governance structure for British racing, is signed by representatives from the sport’s major stakeholders. The agreement allows racing’s groups to work together on strategy with the BHA then able to make key decisions on their behalf.
The BHA came under significant scrutiny and pressure after the verdict against trainer Jim Best in a high-profile non-trier case was quashed due to the perception of bias, as it emerged disciplinary panel member Matthew Lohn had been paid for advice on other matters by the regulator. Best’s case was reheard, as was that of trainer Paul Gilligan, while seven other cases were viewed as having the potential to be unsound. Christopher Quinlan QC was commissioned to produce a report into racing's disciplinary and licensing systems.
Christopher Quinlan’s review concludes with recommendations that include separating the disciplinary panel from the BHA to ensure it is an independent body. He recommends broadening the range of people sitting on the panel as well.
A new levy system is finally implemented for British racing. All betting operators, including those based offshore, are required to pay ten per cent of their gross profits on horse racing bets back to the sport.
New security and identification checks to be brought in by the BHA after trainer Charlie McBride runs the ‘wrong’ horse in a race at Yarmouth and wins. Also this month, the Diversity in Racing Steering Group is established to increase diversity in horseracing.
The BHA makes the unprecedented move to appeal the decision of the disciplinary panel after no penalty is imposed on trainer Philip Hobbs after one of his runners test positive for a banned substance. The move leads to changes to the strict liability rules.
New rules come into force meaning wind operations have to be declared.
The BHA launches a review into welfare at the Cheltenham Festival after seven horses die at, or as a result of injuries incurred during, the meeting. Recommendations released in December 2018 include changes to race conditions, more extensive vet checks and research into new types of hurdles and faller rates at the course.
A new system of stewarding weighted towards professional stewards rather than voluntary honorary stewards is unveiled.
The BHA’s role is discussed in parliament after an online petition. It leads to the creation of the independent Horse Welfare Board to help direct the regulator’s welfare strategy.
The BHA are forced to clarify comments made by Nick Rust around the future of the whip after the chief executive says there is “obviously a perception issue” with the public.
Plans to outlaw horses being partially shod in jump racing are delayed after a backlash by horsemen.
Racing is cancelled from February 7 until February 13 after outbreaks of Equine Influenza at racing yards. Reaction to the BHA’s move to suspend racing makes national headlines and the approach draws a mixed response from within the sport.
The BHA and horsemen come to blows after the decision of Cheltenham stewards to ban a number of amateur riders in the National Hunt Chase. Further tension arises over welfare when Rust cites fox hunting, coursing and circuses as areas that “didn’t move with it in time”, with John Gosden calling the words “unwise”.
BHA publishes its review into the buying and selling of horses at bloodstock auction, which had been leaked to the Racing Post during the summer. A number of recommendations, including setting up a Bloodstock Industry Forum and licensing agents, are put forward.
Nick Rust reveals shock plans to stand down at the end of the year.
Chief executives of the BHB/BHA
British Horseracing Board (1993 - 2007)
Sir Tristram Ricketts – June 1993-July 2000 (secretary-general July 2000-August 2005)
Chris Reynolds (managing director*) - July 2000-March 2002
Greg Nichols – March 2002-July 2006
Chris Brand (acting)– July 2006-February 2007
British Horseracing Authority (2007 - )
Nic Coward – February 2007-March 2011
Chris Brand (acting) – March 2011-January 2012
Paul Bittar – January 2012-January 2015
Nick Rust – January 2015-2020
*Chief executive role briefly ditched under chairman Peter Savill
Get free tipping content with The Punt from 7.30am daily on the Racing Post mobile app and 8.30am on the website