James Given has been appointed by the British Horseracing Authority to be the new Director of Equine Health and Welfare. He will succeed the outgoing David Sykes in January 2021.

When he assumes the role, Given will formally stop training horses and hand in his licence. He will be allowed to retain an ownership interest in two horses for a limited time as he assists with the winding down of his business and the rehoming of his horses. Given’s interests will be managed through a conflict management agreement in the short-term.

Given qualified as a vet in 1990 and began his career in racing in 1995 when he was assistant trainer to Mark Johnston, a position he held for three years before winning a scholarship to study training methods in Dubai.

In November 1998, Given began training in his own right and has sent out a number of high-class performers including Hugs Dancer, winner of the Ebor in 2002 and the Chester Cup in 2003.

Also a member and the current Chair of the BHA’s Ethics Committee, Given has been a member of the Horse Welfare Board since its inception in early 2019.

Given said: “I am delighted to be joining the BHA and welcome the opportunity to strive for ever improving welfare standards for racehorses. The current standards are world leading, but there is no time to rest on our laurels in a world demanding greater accountability.

“I look forward to working with colleagues across the industry, to show that racing is a compassionate sport that puts the welfare of horses at the centre of all we do. I know I am joining a team that shares and represents these ideals.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a trainer and am eternally grateful to all the people who have helped me along this journey – to the owners, many who have become friends, and the outstanding people who have been part of my team, over many years of hard work. I am also grateful to all the horses, fast and slow, willing and less so, that it has been a privilege and a pleasure to look after.”

Brant Dunshea, Chief Regulatory Officer for the BHA, added: “We are extremely excited to welcome James to this role. He brings with him not only extensive clinical experience as a veterinarian, but also first-hand experience of training racehorses at the highest level.

“He has already been integral to the development of the industry’s welfare strategy through his involvement on the Horse Welfare Board, this will complement the equally important regulatory requirements of the role.

“We are delighted that James will be able to continue the excellent work of David Sykes who has made significant progress in his time at the BHA in modernising the equine health and welfare department and improving the quality of life of our horses. We are grateful to David for everything he has done on behalf of the sport.”