Julie Harrington will step down as the chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority as an exodus of UK racing administrators continues.

Julie Harrington
BHA chief executive Julie Harrington will leave her role (Photo: BHA)

Harrington will leave the job at the end of 2024 after three-and-a-half years in the role.

She was the ruling body’s first female chief executive.

During her time at the helm, Harrington has been credited with instigating governance reforms within the BHA while developing a strategy to revive an embattled industry.

But her tenure has also been marked by divided reaction to the introduction of Premier Racing and a trial of Sunday evening racing during winter which has since been abandoned.

Harrington has also been at the forefront of betting levy reforms which have been put on hold until after the UK general election in July.

“With so much now in place to develop and grow the Industry Strategy, which will secure a brighter future for British horseracing, it felt like the right time to move on and let someone else steer the sport through its next exciting phase,” Harrington said in a BHA statement announcing her departure.

“It has been a huge privilege to lead the BHA during what has been a period of real change as the sport has developed and implemented shared strategies for a sustainable future, and an ability to speak with one united voice.”

Before joining the BHA, Harrington worked with the Football Association and British Cycling.

She was also managing director of Uttoxeter racecourse during eight years spent working for Northern Racing.

Harrington’s decision continues a recent spate of resignations among British racing officialdom.

Nevin Truesdale announced last week he will step down as The Jockey Club boss at the end of the year.

The chief executive of Great British Racing, Rod Street, will also leave his role at the end of the Flat season, while Charlie Liverton has resigned from the top job of the Racehorse Owners Association.

“It has been a huge privilege to lead the BHA during what has been a period of real change." - Julie Harrington

Harrington’s departure comes as BHA chairman Joe Saumarez Smith will step down in May 2025.

“The BHA board is already engaged in the search for Joe's successor as chair and informing the board of my intentions now gives the nominations committee the opportunity to plan an orderly handover, consider the complementary skills of candidates and allow the new chair to be part of the final stages of CEO recruitment,” she said.

Saumarez Smith said Harrington had been instrumental in reshaping the BHA’s role in UK horse racing.

“During Julie's tenure we have completely changed the governance of the sport and the BHA's role within it,” he said.

“Four years at the top of any sport demands total focus, concentration and enormous amounts of energy and Julie has delivered all of these, in what at times has been a challenging stakeholder and political environment.”