BHA makes new Board appointments

03 Dec 2014 Financial/Political

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today confirmed the appointment of six new Non-Executive Directors to its Board.

The appointments bring considerable additional expertise to the Board of British Racing’s governing and regulatory body, and follow an extensive search process. A specialist search firm, Sports Recruitment International, worked closely with BHA, making recommendations to its Nominations Committee, comprised of BHA Chairman Steve Harman, Racecourse Association (RCA) Chairman Ian Barlow and Racehorse Owners Association (ROA) President Rachel Hood.

To assist this transition two further Directors will be appointed by BHA’s member organisations, the RCA, ROA, Thoroughbred Breeders Association and Licensed Personnel. They will be appointed shortly and be in place for up to 12 months, helping the progression to the new Board.

The new Board is designed to fit with governance best practice and to help the future health and growth of the sport over coming years.

Steve Harman, Chairman of BHA, said:

“This is the start of a new chapter for the BHA Board and the next step in its evolution as a governing and regulatory body.

“As seen in our recent Chief Executive appointment process, this Board recruitment attracted some amazingly talented people, and many of those who were not successful have promised to help Racing in other ways over the coming months and years.

“The new appointments mean that there will be a significant broadening and deepening of the expertise around the BHA Board table. This includes Media and Government Relations, individuals with Entrepreneurial, Investor, Financial and Betting backgrounds, good regulatory knowledge and considerable Training, Development and Welfare experience.

“As well as these skillsets, we were impressed by the deep-rooted passion and breadth of knowledge of horseracing, which was clear in all of the candidates.

“Alongside the existing highly experienced Directors Andrew Merriam and Ben Gunn, and the incoming Chief Executive Nick Rust, we will have a Board which can undertake three of the key functions of a modern Board – knowledge of and passion across the sport, possession of at least one deep skill set relevant for Racing’s future, and proven stakeholder relationship capability, supported by humility and approachability.

“I would like to thank the outgoing Directors for their dedication and work over the years. Morag Gray has made a substantial contribution to BHA since its inception in 2007, particularly to the community and welfare agendas, which she will continue to support. Justin Wadham’s work in Licensing, Rules, Regulatory and reputational areas has also been invaluable. Like Morag, he will continue to play a role in some of these areas going forward.”

Ian Barlow, Chairman of the RCA, said:

“The RCA welcomes the six new directors to the BHA Board and we look forward to working with them in the years ahead. Their appointments are the result of an extensive, professional process fully involving Rachel and I on behalf of the BHA shareholders. Each of the outstanding appointees brings a wealth of expertise and a wide range of skills which complement each other and will help build on the contribution of the retiring directors. The RCA Board will, in line with the BHA constitution, appoint a director with considerable racing experience for a period of 12 months to assist with the Board’s further development.”

Rachel Hood, President of the ROA, said:

“A particularly extensive search and recruitment process identified exceptionally impressive candidates from a wide variety of backgrounds. Expanding the knowledge and skills base around the Board table will mean that, together with the Chairman and existing directors, the BHA is positioned to become of the most highly respected bodies in sport’s administration.”

Philip Freedman, Chairman of the Horsemen’s Group, said:

“Our members welcome these Board Appointments and are delighted that a position on the BHA Board has appealed to such an outstanding and talented group of individuals. We look forward to their experience in governance and regulation combining with the commercial lead provided by Racing Enterprises Ltd (REL), in maintaining and promoting the world class status of British Horseracing, on which the livelihood of owners, breeders, trainers, jockeys and stable staff depends.”

The new BHA Board appointments are among a number of progressive developments taking place within the sport, including the development of a new tripartite method of working between BHA and its member organisations and collaborative work across the industry to produce a Strategy for Growth. New BHA Chief Executive Nick Rust is due to start in early 2015.

The new Directors, who have been appointed for three-year terms from 1 December, are:


Atholl Duncan

An experienced Non-Executive Director (NED) in sports organisations, Atholl spent nearly 25 years with the BBC, initially as a journalist and TV news and sports producer, before rising to be Head of News and Current Affairs for the BBC in Scotland.

He spent four years as Director of Corporate Affairs with Scottish Water and since 2011 has been Executive Director of ICAS – the professional body of Chartered Accountants.

Atholl sits on numerous advisory Boards, has worked with the Government on various business issues and has good knowledge of sports administration and governance. He was an NED of Sportscotland for nine years, sat on the Scottish Sports Council Trust and currently sits on the board of the Hibernian Football Club Community Foundation.

Atholl has been a regular race goer for more than 35 years and is a member of the Caledonian Racing Society, which has had various horses in training with Hughie Morrison.


Julie Harrington

Julie Harrington has considerable knowledge and experience in British Racing as a result of her eight year career with Northern Racing. Her final appointment was as Operations Director and prior to that she was Managing Director of Uttoxeter Racecourse.

Julie’s early career was with Whitbread Inns as Regional Marketing Director and then with British Airways as Retail Sector Director. Her current role is as Managing Director of St George’s Park, The FA’s flagship National Football Centre.


Noel Harwerth

Noel Harwerth and her husband are former breeders who now buy yearlings in Britain and Ireland and race in Britain.  Noel is active in both British and US Racing and is involved with the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

She was previously a UK Government appointee on the Board of the Tote and is currently NED on a number of high profile financial services organisations, including Standard Life plc, GE Capital Bank Limited and London Metal Exchange.

From 1998 to 2003 Noel was the Chief Operating Officer of Citibank International and prior to that served as the Chief Tax Officer of Citigroup, Dun & Bradstreet Corporation and Kennecott Copper Corporation. She is also a qualified solicitor.


Joe Saumarez Smith

As the CEO of Sports Gaming Limited, a London based management consultancy to the gaming industry, Joe has for the past 15 years advised and worked closely with lotteries, Governments, investment banks and operating companies on strategy, operational restructuring, finance and M&A. For the past three years he has worked as Internet Gaming Expert to the Ontario lottery, helping them move their land-based operations online.

In 2012 Joe also co-founded Bede Gaming Ltd, a provider of technology to the online casino and bingo industries, and one of the fastest growing companies in the north-east. Bede Gaming is licensed by the UK Gambling Commission and other international regulatory bodies.

Joe has an MBA from the Wharton School of Finance, University of Pennsylvania, where he was a Thouron scholar.

Joe has a deep rooted passion and understanding of horseracing, having been an avid follower of the industry since the age of eight. He was on the Jockey Club Graduate Programme and worked at the Racing Post. Over the past 20 years he has been a regular racegoer and has been to more than 200 tracks around the world.  He has written extensively about horseracing and gambling for a variety of publications, including the Financial Times, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, and Bloomberg.


Laura Whyte

A graduate from St Anne’s College Oxford, Laura has had a highly successful career with the John Lewis Partnership. She was on the John Lewis Management Board for ten years during which she saw the business grow from 22,000 to 34,000 employees and a turnover of £4.1bn, most recently in the role of HR Director.

Prior to taking the role of HR Director Laura also took on the role of Divisional Registrar; a board role unique to the Partnership, with the aim of delivering an objective, independent view and providing assurance to the Partnership Board that employees were appropriately supported, that their views were reflected in decision making and that governance within John Lewis was correctly exercised.

Laura has considerable NED experience, sitting on the Defence People and Training Board within the Ministry of Defence and is a Trustee of Women in Retail. 

Laura is a keen horsewoman, and has owned her own horses for fifteen years.  Her two pro bono activities are equine related – the British Equestrian Federation and Ebony Horse Club in Brixton – giving her experience of a wide range of equine issues and understanding of related governance in charitable and governing body sectors.


Eamonn Wilmott

Eamonn Wilmott is a highly successful entrepreneur, with a record of considerable success in the UK and the US.

Eamonn is the Founder & MD of Horses First Racing, a state of the art training yard, in partnership with trainer Jeremy Gask. Having had experience in the training yard, and as a racehorse owner for many years, Eamonn has a strong background and understanding in various aspects of the racing world.

He is also Chairman of the Thoroughbred Owners & Breeders Magazine and co-founded Total Performance Data Limited with ROA Council Member Will Duff Gordon, to develop cutting edge equine monitoring systems.

Eamonn’s early career was as a leader in the development of the internet.  He was the Founder & Managing Director of an award winning digital agency and between 1997 and 2003 he was Chairman of, a leading worldwide digital agency


Notes to Editors:

1. BHA announced the intention to recruit more Independent Directors and that the Board would be restructured in July 2014:

2. Morag Gray and Justin Wadham have now left the BHA Board, having agreed to extend their terms during the recruitment process.