After some British trainers, among them Ralph Beckett and Mark Johnston, called for the resignation of British Horseracing Authority CEO Nick Rust due to his handling of British racing during the COVID-19 crisis, the Board of the BHA released a statement in support of Rust and his team on Sunday afternoon. The Sunday Telegraph first reported the trainers had written to the BHA’s Chairwoman Annamarie Phelps requesting Rust’s resignation. Rust will be leaving his position as CEO of the BHA at the end of the year. The BHA’s statement read:
“The BHA Board met briefly this morning to discuss media reporting of criticism of the BHA and its Chief Executive. The Board–which includes members nominated by the organisations representing horsemen and racecourses–understands the pressures on all in racing at present and recognises that BHA executives benefit from constructive feedback from participants. There will be very few sports or businesses in which similar dialogue isn’t going on given the nature of the crisis. The Board asks that to be done in accordance with racing’s values, to be respectful and not single out individuals unfairly for carrying out their role.
“The racing industry, like everyone at this time, puts the health of the public and our participants first. This was clear in our decision to suspend racing and is a central focus of our planning for resumption.
“Our CEO Nick Rust and his team are acting in support of decisions taken by an industry group, endorsed by the BHA’s Members Committee and enacted by the BHA Board. Our staff are focusing their efforts right now on planning for the resumption of racing as soon as possible. They are working in full collaboration with trainers, racecourses and others.
“Good progress has been made and racing will have detailed proposals incorporating expert medical opinion to present to government as it prepares to review the current restrictions. It is encouraging to see the positive results of our dialogue with government in weekend media reports of the government’s desire for sport to resume.
“Nick, his team, and the industry colleagues with whom they are working so closely, are looking forward and are united in wanting the sport to resume as soon as it is possible. They have the Board’s full and unequivocal support.”