The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced the appointment of Julie Harrington to the role of chief executive from January 2021.
A former BHA board member during her eight years as a senior executive with Northern Racing, Harrington has been the CEO of British Cycling for almost four years. She has also previously been managing director of Uttoxeter Racecourse and operations director of the Football Association (FA), during which time she was responsible for Wembley Stadium and the FA's training facility, St George's Park.
A statement released by the BHA on Tuesday read, “As Chief Executive of British Cycling, [Harrington] has dealt with some significant regulatory challenges. The role has also involved engagement with UK Sport and Sport England over elite funding and growing participation, achieving its target for more than two million cyclists by 2020. It works closely with the Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport and the devolved governments in Scotland and Wales through their national cycling bodies.”
Harrington, who will become the first female chief executive of the BHA, will take up her new position from Jan. 4 and succeeds Nick Rust, who announced at the start of 2020 his intention to stand down from the role after a six-year tenure.
“I'm so excited to be coming home to racing and playing my part helping this great sport to achieve a prosperity from which everyone benefits,” Harrington said. “I know how important collaboration across racing has been over the past few months and I look forward to working with colleagues from all parts of the sport.
“The BHA and its team of dedicated officials do a great job in keeping racing safe, clean and fair. I am proud to take on this leadership role in such a well-regulated sport, which enriches the lives of horses and people, and has a special place at the centre of national life and our rural communities.”
Former Olympic rower Annamarie Phelps became chair of the BHA in April 2019 after fulfilling the same role with British Rowing and serving as vice-chair of the British Olympic Association. She said, “I am delighted that Julie is coming back to the BHA and to racing, and the board and I are looking forward to working closely with her. This is a vital leadership role for the organisation and British racing. Julie's hands-on knowledge of horseracing, coupled with her governance and business experience, make her the ideal person to carry on with the task of restoring sustainable prosperity after the COVID crisis. We've got the right person, for the right job, at the right time.”
Phelps added, “Nick and his team are working closely with the RCA and The Horsemen's Group to get racing through the next phase of COVID-19, to bring back the public, and support our owners and investors in the sport. There'll be no let-up over the coming months and the sport will see a seamless transition to our new CEO. I want to thank all those at the BHA and the industry bodies who are working so hard and I'm confident that racing will continue to lead the way towards a full resumption of sport.”