Julie Harrington to Depart as BHA Chief Executive at Year-End

Julie Harrington has announced that she will be stepping down from her role as Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) at the end of 2024, concluding a four-year tenure.

During her time at the BHA, Julie has overseen substantial changes within the organization and the broader British horseracing industry. Notable achievements include the implementation of a new governance structure, securing cross-industry support for the sport’s long-term Industry Strategy, and establishing a solid framework to support this strategy. Additionally, she has facilitated structural and operational reforms within the BHA, introduced a new People Strategy alongside the Horseracing Industry People Board, and renewed the focus on enhancing commercial opportunities.

Furthermore, Joe Saumarez Smith, the current Chair of the BHA, will step down from his position at the end of May 2025. The recruitment process for his successor commenced last month.

These leadership changes mark a significant period of transition for the BHA as it continues to navigate the evolving landscape of British horseracing.

Commenting on her decision to step down, Julie said: “With so much now in place to develop and grow the Industry Strategy, which will secure a brighter future for British horseracing, it felt 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 what has been a period of real change as the sport has developed and implemented shared strategies for a sustainable future, and an ability to speak with one united voice.

“I love working in horseracing, it is an amazing sport to be involved in. I will always be a fan and you can expect to see me at the races in the years ahead. I am proud of the progress the industry has made over the past three years, especially in improving the governance structure, and I hope that racing’s stakeholders will continue to work together cooperatively to attract new audiences, further improve the customer experience and grow the sport.

“I am confident that if the sport continues to foster the sense of unity and shared purpose that we have developed over the past few years then great things can be achieved.

“My future plans are likely to include a move to a varied non-executive career. Although I took the decision to stand down some time ago, I have agreed to stay on until the end of year to allow a smooth transition to a new CEO.

“The BHA Board is already engaged in the search for Joe’s successor as Chair and informing the Board of my intentions now gives the nominations committee the opportunity to plan an orderly handover, consider the complementary skills of candidates and allow the new Chair to be part of the final stages of CEO recruitment.

“British Horseracing is one of the cornerstones of our sporting and cultural heritage. I will be forever thankful to have had the opportunity to be a part of it, both during my tenures at Northern Racing, on the BHA Board and most recently as CEO of the BHA. I wish it every success in the years to come.

“We have a hugely talented and passionate team at the BHA. From the executive leadership team, those working day in, day out on course or from our new smaller HQ in Holborn Gate, it really is a team effort. It is a team that has undergone a great deal of change in the past few years and one that is dedicated to delivering for our sport. With a busy period ahead, the whole BHA will remain focused on delivering a great service”

Joe Saumarez Smith said: “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 to the end of the year to allow us to recruit her replacement and to ensure a smooth transition.

“During Julie’s tenure we have completely changed the governance of the sport and the BHA’s role within it. Her influencing skills, often behind-the-scenes, have been key to that change and also in the positive adjustments made to the Gambling Act White Paper that posed such a threat to our sport.

“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.”

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