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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: departing chief executive has overseen a number of changes during his time at the BHA
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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.

November 2014

Nick Rust, head of retail at the bookmaker Ladbrokes, is named the surprise successor to Paul Bittar as BHA CEO.

January 2015

Nick Rust starts at the BHA having been initially forecast to start in April.

June 2015

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.

October 2015

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.

November 2015

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. 

Jim Best: verdict was quashed over the perception of bias

May 2016

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.

September 2016

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.

April 2017

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.

August 2017

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.

October 2017

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.

January 2018

New rules come into force meaning wind operations have to be declared.

Cheltenham Festival: under the microscope during 2018

March 2018

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.

August 2018

A new system of stewarding weighted towards professional stewards rather than voluntary honorary stewards is unveiled.

October 2018

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.

December 2018

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.

January 2019

Plans to outlaw horses being partially shod in jump racing are delayed after a backlash by horsemen.

February 2019

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.

March 2019 

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”.

The Bloodstock Review was leaked to the Racing Post last summer

December 2019

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.

January 2020

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

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The agreement allows racing’s groups to work together on strategy with the BHA then able to make key decisions on their behalf

Key data

Jim Best
E.W. Terms