British Horseracing Authority Nick Rust To Leave Post in 2020
Former Ladbrokes managing director, Nick Rust is to step down from his role with the British Horseracing Authority. The chief executive has held the role for five years but has decided to leave after a “period of reflection” following the death of his wife.
In an open letter on the BHA’s website, Rust informed staff of his decision to step down from the role at the end of 2020.
He said that he “wanted to let you and the BHA know my decision and plans well ahead of leaving to allow plenty of time for a successor to be identified and appointed”.
Rust said the role had been “fantastic” and paid tribute to the passionate and hard-working people within the association.
He added that he was proud of the work the team do, much of it unseen and highlighted the efforts during the equine flu problems last year. Rust also highlighted the ongoing work, saying;
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. Only this afternoon, I spent several hours with our Executive team reviewing our plans for 2020. We have a busy and exciting year ahead.– Nick Rust, BHA chief executive
Rust’s time at the horse racing’s governing body and regulator coincided with a turbulent one for the industry in general. Many people credit the chief executive for the way he has handled the challenges and seized opportunities for the sport.
Horseracing as a sport has increasingly faced pressure, both regulatory and through public opinion to increase the wellbeing of horses. High-profile fatalities and the use of the whip by jockeys, highlighted by animal rights campaigners, added scrutiny to the sport.
As a response, the BHA, under Rust’s stewardship, created and championed the Horse Welfare Board. The Board was set up to achieve eight objectives, these are;
- 1. To achieve the best welfare outcomes possible for horses involved in British racing.
- 2. To set out a vision and multi-year plan for horse welfare, based on shared industry priorities.
- 3. To engage racing in the development of an industry strategy.
- 4. To commission new projects and initiatives that may be required to deliver the plan.
- 5. To continue to improve the safety of racehorses
- 6. To ensure effective use of the sport’s resources to achieve the vision.
- 7. To ensure the sport benefits from an independent perspective on horse welfare, with a clear role for animal welfare bodies.
- 8. To ensure more effective communication and engagement around equine welfare, to build trust amongst key audiences and stakeholders on horseracing’s approach to welfare.
Rust said of the Welfare board, “The industry’s Horse Welfare Board which the BHA and our members set up only eight months ago is finalising an ambitious strategy for further improvement of racing’s exceptional standards of care for our horses. For me, it will be a landmark moment after an unrelenting focus on this issue over the past few years.” It is, however, Rust’s work as a government campaigner that will be more fondly remembered by the sport. In “challenging times for racing”, Rust tirelessly campaigned for the interests of racing and raised the profile of the sport with parliament.
The Labour MP for St Helens North, Conor McGinn paid tribute to Rust’s “unquestionable” passion and commitment to racing. The co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Racing and Bloodstock Industries Group said of the chief executive, “His work in lobbying government has benefited racing, not least on levy reform. These are challenging times for racing and Nick did a difficult job very well. I wish him the best for the future.”
Rust was successful in lobbying the government in a change in horse racing levies. As a result of the change, money was returned to the sport at the grassroots level. A press release at the time claimed the introduction of the levy helped safeguard 85,000 jobs within the sport.
The British Horseracing Authority has yet to announce how they will choose a successor for the role or the timescales involved.