The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced that Nick Rust is to step down as its chief executive at the end of 2020, after almost six years in the role.
Rust said he has signalled his intent to exit British racing’s governing body and regulator well ahead of his leaving date in order to allow time for a successor to be identified and appointed.
The BHA will begin the process of selecting a new chief executive in the next few weeks.
“This is a fantastic job leading a team of passionate, hard-working people who want racing to have a prosperous and sustainable future as a clean, fair sport that looks after its horses and its people,” Rust commented.
“With the committed support of our new chair, Annamarie Phelps, the BHA has put itself, and helped put our sport, in a place where we can be optimistic about our future. The foundations for success are in place.”
Reflecting on his time in office, Rust picked out a number of highlights, including the establishment of the new Horse Welfare Board that the BHA and its members set up last year.
“For me, it will be a landmark moment after an unrelenting focus on this issue over the past few years,” Rust said. “I’ll begin the process of implementing the plan to deliver the BHA’s part of the strategy, but given my decision, it’s the right time for someone else to pick up the challenge of delivering on these ambitions through a programme of work we expect to take five years or more.”
Rust also spoke about other key achievements such as setting up a safeguarding team to protect young and vulnerable people in racing, as well as the BHA’s new approach to raceday stewarding.
In addition, Rust noted changes to the racing levy in 2017, saying that without this, racing’s finances would be in a more difficult place than they currently are.
“The BHA team I lead worked hard over several years to put forward the arguments to government and the industry ensured that a consistent, simple message was communicated to parliamentarians and the media,” Rust said.
“Of course, there’s always more to do and racing faces its share of challenges as any sport or business does. The job’s never done. But my successor can look forward to the support of a top-class chair and an expert board, a capable and excellent team and an industry that when it comes together and works in a collaborative way can be highly effective.”
BHA chair Phelps added: “We’re all going to miss Nick’s passion and drive. It is typical of his deep commitment to British racing that he’s given us plenty of time to find a new leader, avoiding a vacuum and ensuring a seamless transition.
“He’s been a great help to me personally over the last few months as I’ve got to know the sport and the industry. We’ll be using all our complementary skills over the next few months to keep racing moving forward.”