British Cycling's Harrington swaps saddles to replace Rust at BHA
The British Horseracing Authority, the sport’s national governing body, today announced the appointment of Julie Harrington as its new chief executive.
Harrington (pictured) will join in January from British Cycling, where she has served in the same role for the past four years.
She will replace Nick Rust who announced in January that he will be stepping down at the end of the year after occupying the position since January 2015.
Rust will continue to lead the BHA while Harrington completes her notice period with British Cycling as the governing body “works with industry bodies on resumption and recovery” following the coronavirus pandemic.
At British Cycling, Harrington has been responsible for managing its relationship with HSBC as the governing body’s leading sponsor and partner, an agreement the international banking giant in February announced it will terminate at the end of the year.
Harrington is a former member of the BHA board and was a senior executive with Northern Racing, a UK company which operates a group of racecourses, for eight years, including a spell as managing director of Uttoxeter racecourse.
The BHA described Harrington as “one of the most experienced leaders in sport, with a strong background in consumer, operational and regulatory roles, and a clear understanding of the financial challenges facing participants.”
In other previous roles, she spent time as operations director for England’s Football Association, where was she responsible for the national Wembley Stadium and St George’s Park, the elite training facility.
Harrington’s early career was with hospitality company Whitbread Inns as regional marketing director and then with British Airways as retail sector director.
Annamarie Phelps, BHA chair, said: “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 have got the right person, for the right job, at the right time.”
Horse racing in the UK suffered heavily because of the pandemic with the prestigious Grand National cancelled and the Epsom Derby and Royal Ascot taking place behind closed doors for the first time in their history.
Phelps added: “Nick and his team are working closely with the Racecourse Association 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 will be no let-up over the coming months and the sport will see a seamless transition to our new chief executive.”
Harrington’s appointment continues a period of senior managerial change in the UK horse racing industry.
Paul Fisher, the chief executive of Jockey Club Racecourses, also announced his departure at the beginning of the year.
Fisher resurfaced in late June, alongside Simon Bazalgette, who himself had stepped down as chief executive of the Jockey Club, as the pair teamed up to launch Global Venue Services, an advisory, investment and services business that will work across the sports, leisure, media and entertainment sectors.
Bazalgette was last year replaced at the Jockey Club by Delia Bushell, the former managing director of BT Sport, the UK pay-TV broadcaster.
Just last week, Richard FitzGerald stepped down as chief executive of Racecourse Media Group, the umbrella organisation for 37 racecourses in the UK and Ireland.