Paul Bittar has been appointed Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), the governing and regulatory authority for British Racing. He will join the BHA from his current position as Chief Strategy Officer at Racing Victoria, the principal authority governing racing in the State of Victoria, Australia. Prior to Racing Victoria he was Chief Executive of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing. He will take up his appointment at the BHA in January 2012.
Paul Roy, Chairman of the British Horseracing Authority, said:
“Paul Bittar is a racing enthusiast through and through. He combines keen management and financial skills with love for the sport and a well-informed understanding of the challenges that British Racing must overcome at this time. After a prolonged and painstaking search, the selection team was unanimous in putting him forward for the job.”
Bittar, 41, was born and raised in Australia. He is a qualified accountant and has worked in racing management since 2000, where he had four years as Commercial Manager at Racing New South Wales. In 2004/5 he worked in Great Britain as Project Manager at one of the Authority’s predecessors, the British Horseracing Board (BHB), after which he was recruited as Chief Executive of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing. He worked in New Zealand until 2009, during which time he successfully re-structured NZTR whilst delivering a significant expansion of both the racing calendar and international broadcast of New Zealand racing in conjunction with the New Zealand TAB and leading totalisator operator Tabcorp. In 2009, he joined Racing Victoria in the newly created role of Chief Strategy Officer, with responsibility for areas including media and broadcast rights, relations with the betting industry, industry funding and planning.
Speaking today of his appointment, Bittar said:
“It is a tremendous honour for me to be appointed Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority, the sport’s spiritual home. My priority on taking up the role will be to work with the Board and stakeholders to secure a sound business footing for the industry whilst further enhancing its world-leading racing programme and standards of integrity and welfare. I’m looking forward to both the challenge and the pleasure of working in British Racing again.”
Paul Bittar will take over the Chief Executive’s role from Chris Brand, who has been Acting Chief Executive since the departure of Nic Coward in March 2011.
Paul Roy said:
“Chris has fulfilled the commitment he made to the BHA earlier this year, when he announced his intention to leave the Authority once a new CEO was appointed. He has done an excellent job as the BHA’s chief operating officer and more recently as Interim CEO. The Board and I thank him wholeheartedly for his dedication and hard work and wish him every success for the future.”
Bittar’s appointment was overseen by a Nominations Committee, comprising Ian Barlow, Chairman of the Racecourse Association, Paul Dixon, Chairman of the Horsemen’s Group and Paul Roy. Interviews of candidates, who totalled 40, were also conducted by two independent BHA Board members, Morag Gray and John Bridgeman.
Ian Barlow, Chairman of the Racecourse Association, said:
“There is so much that is positive about the development of racing, capitalising on our unique qualities as a racing nation, but there are undoubtedly a number of significant challenges that all our stakeholders need to work together to resolve, and leadership from the BHA is critical to that.
“Amongst an excellent shortlist of candidates, Paul emerged as the leading contender. His proven leadership qualities and his broad international experience, including in Great Britain with the BHA’s predecessor, well equips him for such a vital role.”
Paul Dixon, Chairman of the Horsemen’s Group, said:
“I am confident that we have found the right person for this role. Paul is familiar with British Horseracing from his time with the BHB and he has much firsthand experience and knowledge regarding the needs of owners, trainers, breeders, jockeys, stable staff and others who work in our great sport.”