Current deputy Dominic Gardiner-Hill appointed successor to Phil Smith
The BHA has appointed current deputy Dominic Gardiner-Hill to succeed Phil Smith as head of handicapping.
Gardiner-Hill, who spent six years with the Racing Post before joining the then BHB in 1993, is widely respected by his international peers and is the second-longest serving current member of the Longines World's Best Racehorse Rankings Committee.
As well as taking on the high-profile job of framing the weights for the Randox Health Grand National from next year, Gardiner-Hill will be tasked with taking forward recommendations made in a 2017 report, following an internal handicapping review commissioned by the BHA and led by journalist and broadcaster Lydia Hislop, which called for greater transparency in the work of the handicapping team.
Gardiner-Hill said: "I'm absolutely delighted to have been given the chance to do one of the biggest jobs in world handicapping and lead such a talented and dedicated team. I have big boots to fill but it’s a challenge I'm going to relish.
"With advances in technology and various recommendations from the recent review to be considered, the future is an exciting one for the handicapping team and I’m looking forward to leading them into that future."
Smith steps down after working for the sport's regulator for 22 years and described Gardiner-Hill as "approachable, honest, caring, accurate and thorough", adding his successor's reputation overseas would continue to be a big plus for British racing.
"Abroad he is seen as a major player in international conferences, where his logical and well-thought-out explanations, as well as his diplomacy, have helped British-trained horses receive appropriate end-of-year ratings in the Longines World Rankings," said Smith.
Recommendations for handicapping process
Among Hislop's wide-ranging recommendations were calls for more data-driven interrogation of handicapping data, and a more open relationship between BHA handicappers and trainers, offering the possibility of an appeals process should connections feel harshly treated.
The proposals are being studied in-house in advance of a consultation process to be conducted later in 2018.
Hislop said: "These recommendations also seek to ensure the official handicapping process is more understandable and accessible, not only for the practical benefit of trainers and owners but to better inform, educate and engage the wider sporting and betting public."
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