David Sykes will step down as Director of Equine Health and Welfare at the British Horseracing Authority before the end of 2020 to return to his native Australia for family reasons.

Sykes joined the BHA in 2017 and has helped to improve welfare standards for British thoroughbreds through his role and as a member of the sport’s Horse Welfare Board, a body which he helped to develop along with its cross-industry welfare strategy.

Launched earlier this year, the Horse Welfare Board’s remit is focused on ensuring that every horse bred to race should lead and be seen to lead “a life well lived”. Sykes will continue to be involved in development plans for the strategy’s implementation prior to his departure.

During his time in the role, Sykes has also handled the sport’s response to last year’s equine flu outbreak, improved the traceability of horses with the implementation of a 30-day foal notification, and published a detailed review of safety and welfare at the Cheltenham Festival.

Sykes said: “I’m very grateful to everyone I’ve worked with over the last three years for making me feel welcome here in British racing, and for the spirit of collaboration which has helped us achieve so much in a short space of time.

“I have very much enjoyed my time here and I am confident that through the excellent veterinary team at the BHA, greater collaboration amongst industry stakeholders and the important work of the Horse Welfare Board, that British racing is well placed to continue to enhance its world-leading reputation when it comes to the welfare of its animals.”

BHA Chief Executive Nick Rust added: “David has made a fantastic contribution to British racing over the last three years. His track record speaks for itself in achieving so much in a relatively short period of time and he will be greatly missed.

“We are grateful that David will continue to stay on for the time being while we carry out the difficult task of looking for his successor.”

Aintree Chairman Rose Paterson dies aged 63

Rose Paterson, Chairman of Aintree racecourse, has died at the age of 63.

Paterson, who was a member of the Jockey Club’s Board of Stewards, was appointed Chairman of the Merseyside track to succeed Lord Daresbury after the 2014 Grand National meeting. She had previously been a Racecourse Committee Director for the Grand National since 2005.

In a statement, her husband, MP Owen Paterson, said: “It is with great sadness that I must inform you that my wife, Rose, has been found dead at our family home in Shropshire.

“Rose and I were married for 40 happy years. She was a wonderful, caring wife, mother and grandmother. Her death has come as a terrible shock to us all. I would ask the media to respect the privacy of myself and my family at this extremely difficult time.”

Sandy Dudgeon, Senior Steward of the Jockey Club, paid tribute to Paterson and added: “This is tragic news and our thoughts go out to Rose’s husband Owen and all members of her family.

“Rose was a wonderful person and involved in so many aspects of our sport. She was a skilled Chairman at Aintree, a valued member of our Board of Stewards and headed up our Horse Welfare Group. She also enjoyed participating at grassroots level over many years.

“We appreciated her contribution very much and my fellow stewards and I looked forward to hearing her sound views on a subject, where she was always sensitive to the best course of action for racing. She will be greatly missed for the person she was.”

Today’s racing

Haydock’s bumper ten-race card features the Listed EBF Eternal Fillies’ Stakes, which provides a good opportunity for Godolphin homebred Althiqa to secure valuable black-type.

The three-year-old caught the eye with a seven and a half length success at Newmarket earlier this month. She will line up against her Charlie Appleby-trained stablemate Spring Of Love, who will be making her first start of the season.

Yvonne Jacques’ homebred Stylistique and the James Tate-trained Under The Stars also provide stern opposition in the seven-furlong contest.