Horse racing: New BHA chief has a long track record in the industry

Micky Hammond.
Micky Hammond.
Have your say

Nick Rust, retail director of bookmakers Ladbrokes, described himself as “thrilled” and “honoured” at being appointed the new chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority.

Rust , 47, has been in his current role at Ladbrokes for three and a half years, and will replace Paul Bittar, whose impending departure at the end of his three-year term was announced earlier this year.

Rust, an owner since 2005 and who currently has four horses in training with Micky Hammond in Middleham, is expected to join the BHA in the first quarter of 2015, working a notice period until April

He said in a statement: “Given my lifelong passion for British racing, I am thrilled and honoured to be taking up the role of chief executive at BHA.

“Racing is a huge sport, and critical to many areas of the economy. It has many exciting opportunities ahead and I know that the racing industry can grasp these.

“I look forward to working with the new board, and the wider team, as well as our many stakeholders, to build on what has already been achieved across racing and by Paul and his team.”

Bittar tweeted: “Congrats Nick Rust on securing one of the great jobs in sport. Likeable and effective, I wish him luck for the many challenges that lie ahead.”

BHA chairman Steve Harman said: “We are delighted to have appointed Nick. The quality of candidates was amongst the highest I have ever seen for any CEO position, with a range of senior leaders from the UK business, consumer and leisure industries. Nick impressed us all the way through the process.

“He has been an avid racing fan since childhood, has an impressive track record in his business life, and a great understanding of the opportunities for the sport. Those that know Nick know that he has a natural and collaborative leadership style with staff and stakeholders alike, a good blend of humility and desire to get things done. He is comfortable from ‘stable to boardroom’ and understands how pivotal this sport is to jobs and UK PLC. He understands the priorities and opportunities well and I know that he will build on the platform developed by Paul Bittar and the BHA team, and be a highly effective and popular leader.”

The appointment of Rust was made by the BHA board, with a recommendation from from the BHA’s Nominations Committee, which comprises of Harman, Ian Barlow, chairman of the Racecourse Association, and Rachel Hood, Racehorse Owners Association president.

Hood, wife of top trainer John Gosden, said: “The appointment process for the new BHA CEO has been very thorough and meticulous, culminating I believe, in the collaborative appointment of an outstanding and professional candidate who will serve the horse racing industry with commitment, understanding and vision.

“Nick is a long-time racehorse owner, with a track record of investment and involvement in a racing stable, and a passion for horse racing itself. His hugely successful career in the betting industry brings with it a profound understanding of so many issues facing the future growth of our sport.”

Trainer Jessica Harrington watches Our Dukeat her Commonstown Stables in Moone, Ireland. PIC: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Cheltenham Festival Turf Talk: Sizing John ‘understudy’ Our Duke looking for repeat performance in Gold Cup