Julie Harrington will take over as chief executive of racing’s ruling body in the New Year, replacing Nick Rust, who announced his intention to leave in January. With a background in racing combined with experience of senior roles in other sports, Harrington was seen as a strong contender from an early stage and has been the bookmakers’ favourite to take over since April, when it emerged that she was interested in the post.
Harrington spent eight years as a senior executive with Northern Racing before it became part of the ARC group of racecourses and managed Uttoxeter for a time. She is well known at the BHA, having been a non-executive director until last year.
Her impressive CV includes a spell as operations director for the FA, when she was responsible for Wembley Stadium and the training facility at St George’s Park. Since March 2017, she has been chief executive of British Cycling.
Harrington becomes the first woman to head racing’s regulator. “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,” said Annamarie Phelps, the BHA chair. “We’ve got the right person, for the right job, at the right time.”
Harrington, who will take up the post on 4 January after working out her notice period, said: “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. 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.”