Nick Rust will stand down as Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority at the end of 2020 after six years in the role.

Former bookmaker Rust, who joined the BHA from Ladbrokes in 2015, succeeded Australian Paul Bittar. He has overseen a number of projects during his tenure including the publishing of the review into the buying and selling of horses at bloodstock sales in December.

He was also instrumental in helping to drive the 2017 levy changes, which saw the previous system replaced with one that captures a return from all betting operators, including those based overseas, that accept bets on the sport by British-based punters.

The role has not been without its challenges as Rust has had to navigate the increased focus on equine welfare from those outside of the sport, while an overhaul of the stewarding system has been anything but smooth.

Rust signalled his departure in a message to BHA staff on Tuesday afternoon.

He said: “I’ve spent much of the past year reflecting on my situation after my personal bereavement at the end of 2018. I wanted to let you and the BHA know my decision and plans well ahead of leaving to allow plenty of time to for a successor to be identified and appointed.

“I am hugely proud of what you do for British racing and thank you all”

“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.

“You demonstrated that visibly with all the effort you put in to resolve the equine flu problems last year, but I know how much more unseen work is going on across the BHA to progress our sport. I am hugely proud of what you do for British racing and thank you all.”

Underlining key work carried out by the BHA in recent months, Rust added: “We published the review of the buying and selling of horses just before Christmas. We have established a safeguarding team to protect young and vulnerable in our sport.

“Our new approach to raceday stewarding is bedding in and the industry is picking up the challenge on diversity and inclusion as we saw so vividly in 2019 through the amazing story of Khadijah Mellah and the remarkable achievements of our female jockeys.”

Commenting on Rust’s departure, the BHA’s Chair Annamarie Phelps said: “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.”

The process of selecting a new Chief Executive for the BHA will begin in the next few weeks.