Julie Harrington has revealed she is stepping down as Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority at the end of 2024.

With Joe Saumarez Smith finishing his term as Chair in May 2025, it leaves the regulator needing to recruit personnel in its top two positions during a particularly challenging period for the sport.

Harrington joined the BHA in early 2021 and oversaw agreement on a new governance structure, including the formation of a Commercial Committee, representing racing’s stakeholders, which makes recommendations on behalf of the sport to the BHA Board.

This new structure led to an agreement on the principles and objectives behind a long-term industry strategy.

Premier racing, designed to promote the top end of the sport, is one of the major principles of the industry strategy, but has met with mixed results since its launch at the beginning of the year.

Commenting on her decision to step down, Harrington said: “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.

“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.

“I love working in horseracing, it is an amazing sport to be involved in. I will always be a fan and you can expect to see me at the races in the years ahead. I am proud of the progress the industry has made over the past three years, especially in improving the governance structure, and I hope that racing’s stakeholders will continue to work together cooperatively to attract new audiences, further improve the customer experience and grow the sport.

“I am confident that if the sport continues to foster the sense of unity and shared purpose that we have developed over the past few years then great things can be achieved.

“My future plans are likely to include a move to a varied non-executive career. Although I took the decision to stand down some time ago, I have agreed to stay on until the end of year to allow a smooth transition to a new CEO.

“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 added: “British horseracing is one of the cornerstones of our sporting and cultural heritage. I will be forever thankful to have had the opportunity to be a part of it, both during my tenures at Northern Racing, on the BHA Board and most recently as CEO of the BHA. I wish it every success in the years to come.”

Harrington had played a pivotal role in racing’s negotiations with the betting industry regarding levy reform, with a deal thought to be imminent before the general election was called. She will continue to lead discussions when they resume following the election result.