BHA Board welcomes Julie Harrington as new Chief Executive

11 Aug 2020 BHA Features Financial/Political

The BHA Board has chosen the Chief Executive of British Cycling, Julie Harrington, to be the new head of British horseracing’s governing body and regulator.

She will take over the post at the beginning of 2021 after nearly 4 years leading British Cycling, which has more than 160,000 grassroots members and is responsible for the elite team preparing for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Julie Harrington is a former member of the BHA Board and was a senior executive with Northern Racing for 8 years, including a spell as Managing Director of Uttoxeter. She is 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.

As the Operations Director for the FA, she was responsible for Wembley Stadium and St George’s Park, the FA training facility. Her early career was with Whitbread Inns as Regional Marketing Director and then with British Airways as Retail Sector Director. She has been responsible for managing British Cycling’s relationship with HSBC UK, its leading sponsor and partner.

As Chief Executive of British Cycling, she 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.
BHA Chair, Annamarie Phelps, commented:

“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.”

Julie Harrington 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.”

Julie Harrington will join the BHA on January 4th after completing her notice period at British Cycling. Nick Rust continues to lead the BHA as it works with industry bodies on resumption and recovery. A revised  industry plan is due to be published shortly.

Annamarie Phelps said:

“Nick and his team are working closely with the RCA and The Horsemen’s Group to get racing through the next phase of COVID19, 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.”

Notes to editors:

  1. The new Chief Executive was appointed by the BHA Nominations Committee, which includes one Director nominated by The Horsemen’s Group and one by the RCA. The group’s membership was as follows;

Annamarie Phelps (C)
Andrew Merriam – BHA (Senior Independent Director)
Maggie Carver – RCA, appointed by the RCA
Nicholas Cooper – HG, appointed by horsemen

(NB Nicholas was succeeded by Charlie Parker as the HG member after the new CEO had been selected).