Smith to stand down as head of handicapping next May
Phil Smith, the BHA’s head of handicapping, has announced his plans to retire from racing’s regulatory body at the end of next summer.
Smith, 68, synonymous with the Grand National weights, has spent 22 years with the BHA. He will stand down from his current role in May and leave the BHA two months later.
“I've really enjoyed my time as an official handicapper,” Smith said. “Although I'll be moving on from working full-time as the head of handicapping, I hope to continue my international commitments and to stay involved in racing utilising the skills and knowledge I've gained over the last 20 years or so.”
He added: “I've been supported by a fantastic team and a brilliant deputy in Dominic Gardiner-Hill and I know they'll develop and continue to modernise British handicapping.
“I'm looking forward to the upcoming winter jumps season and, despite stepping down next year, it'll be business as usual.”
Smith has been responsible for a number of significant advancements in handicapping practice during his time at the BHA.
These include the introduction of the Anglo-Irish Jumps Classification in season 1999-2000 – providing the data which drove two changes in the jumping weight-for-age scale – and recently achieving European agreement to make an adjustment to the Flat weight-for-age scale for the first time in over 20 years.
He was also responsible for changes in handicapping practice in the Grand National – introducing ‘compression’ at the top of the weights in order to give higher-rated horses a realistic chance of being competitive in the world's most famous race.
Richard Wayman, chief operating officer for the BHA, said: "Phil's contribution will be greatly missed by all at the BHA and he has our very best wishes for the future."
The BHA will shortly begin the search for Smith's successor by advertising the role.