The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced that Julie Harrington will conclude her role as CEO at the end of the year.

Harrington’s tenure, spanning four years as Chief Executive, has overseen a period of significant regulatory change and operational transformation within the organisation. She also worked to build stronger relationships with various stakeholders across the industry.

Formerly leading UK Cycling, Harrington assumed the position of BHA CEO in 2020, succeeding long-standing CEO Nick Rust

During her time, she initiated pivotal initiatives aimed at enhancing the BHA’s governance over the UK racing ecosystem and created long-term plans for sustainability.

Notably, Harrington played a pivotal role in navigating the BHA’s response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring support for all sectors of UK racing impacted by the global crisis.

Under her leadership, the BHA also launched a comprehensive People Strategy, highlighted by the establishment of the Horseracing Industry People Board, aimed at promoting diversity and inclusivity across the spectrum of UK racing.

Harrington stated: “With so much now in place to develop and grow the Industry Strategy, which will secure a brighter future for British horseracing, it feels like the right time to move on and let someone else steer the sport through its next exciting phase.

“It has been a huge privilege to lead the BHA during a period of real change as the sport developed and implemented shared strategies for a sustainable future, and we have been able to speak with one united voice.

“British Horseracing is a cornerstone of our sporting and cultural heritage. I am forever thankful for the opportunity to be a part of it, both during my tenures at Northern Racing, on the BHA Board, and as CEO of the BHA. I wish it every success in the years to come.”

Meanwhile, the BHA is set to commence the recruitment process for its new executive leadership team, coinciding with Joe Saumarez Smith‘s departure as Chair of the BHA at the end of May 2025. 

The forthcoming executive team will also engage in negotiations to establish a new levy structure in collaboration with UK operators, a significant task in ensuring the industry’s sustainability and growth.

Additionally, it will continue to follow up on Harrington’s support of the UK Gambling Commission‘s (UKGC) decision to implement a “light-touch” threshold of £150 for affordability checks on customers.

Praising Harrington, Joe Saumarez Smith commented: “Four years at the top of any sport demands total focus, concentration, and enormous amounts of energy and Julie has delivered all of these, in what at times has been a challenging stakeholder and political environment.

“I, and the BHA Board, fully understand why she has taken this decision now and wish her every success in her future roles.”

“Julie has been a fantastic Chief Executive for the BHA and has done a huge amount for the industry since her appointment. We have been lucky to have her in charge, and she will be difficult to replace. I am grateful she has agreed to stay on until the end of the year to allow us to recruit her replacement and to ensure a smooth transition.”

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