The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today announced that Dr Michael Turner has decided that he will not be renewing his annual contract as Chief Medical Adviser in 2014.
Dr Turner, 66, has worked on behalf of Racing’s regulatory and governing body in its various forms for over 21 years, having joined the Jockey Club in 1992.
Dr Turner’s contract has renewed annually, but he has now made the decision that he would like to focus on an external and specific project linked to concussion research. He will, however, remain contracted to BHA until such a time as a replacement is found. This process has now started.
Jamie Stier, Director of Raceday Operations and Regulation for BHA, said:
“British Racing has been very fortunate to have someone of the quality of Dr Turner as Chief Medical Adviser to BHA for this many years. He is widely regarded by many as a world leader in the medical care of jockeys.
“Throughout this period Dr Turner has been responsible for so many advancements in medical science and practice within the sport that there would be no point even trying to list them all. The one thing that has been consistent throughout his service has been his unrelenting desire to ensure that the best possible care is provided to jockeys, both on and off the racecourse.
“One only need look at how advanced British Racing’s position on concussion management is for a perfect illustration of both Dr Turner’s foresight and his ability to bring about change.
“He will be missed for all of these reasons, but also for the sense of humour for which he is famed. We are pleased that he has agreed to continue to assist us on a consultancy basis while we take on the challenge of finding someone who will continue his good work.”
Dr Turner said:
“I have been responsible for the health and welfare of jockeys for over 21 years now, half my working life, and have latterly become increasingly interested in research relating to head injuries and concussion.
“An international network of centres is currently being established to examine the short term and long term implications of concussion in sport and the possibility of a London-based centre joining this network has been raised.
“This research will be of enormous importance to current and retired jockeys but it is simply not possible to combine the demands of launching such a complicated project with the very demanding role of BHA Chief Medical Adviser.
“However, as long as riders continue to get concussed, I anticipate having regular contact with the sport and, in particular, the jockeys, and I am delighted that the Injured Jockeys Fund has also shown an interest in being involved with this new research project.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my role in horseracing and would like to thank all those hundreds people who have helped to improve the medical support for jockeys over the last 20 years, both on and off the racecourse.”
Paul Struthers, Chief Executive of the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA), said:
“I was fortunate to work with Michael whilst at the Jockey Club and subsequently HRA & BHA, as well as in my current role at the Professional Jockeys Association.
“Given his role Michael wasn’t ever going to be the jockeys’ best friend, but what is undoubted is his absolute commitment to their safety and wellbeing. Whether through making a stand on medical provision following the tragic death of Richard Davis, introducing a world-leading concussion protocol that was ahead of its time, pushing for increases in the minimum riding weight and supporting numerous other welfare-related initiatives, he has always put their safety and welfare above other concerns.
“It is a shame he’s leaving so soon as he is but we’re pleased he will effectively remain in situation to oversee a handover to his replacement when they are recruited. We look forward to working with him on a number of ongoing issues as well as sharing our thoughts with the BHA on the requirements of the role.”