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BHA making plans for independence

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced that it is making changes to its Board and its way of working. These changes are designed to fit with governance best practice and help the implementation of the current Strategy for Growth work.

The BHA has started the process of finding a number of new Directors and has appointed specialist search firm Sports Recruitment International to identify candidates for the future Board. Four Directors, who were due to stand down this year, have agreed to extend their contracts to help with the transition.

The new Directors are expected to be in place by the end of the year, marking the next step in the evolution of British Racing’s governing and regulatory body, established in 2007. Andrew Merriam, currently an Independent Regulatory Director, will take over as Senior Independent Director and Ben Gunn will continue on the Board as Independent Regulatory Director.

BHA will also be enhancing the way its Board operates, including interaction and agreements with its shareholders: the Racecourse Association; Racehorse Owners Association; Thoroughbred Breeders Association and Licensed Personnel (representing trainers, jockeys and stable staff). It will provide for clearer consultation structures, improved shareholder support mechanisms, and more formal and improved tripartite structures between BHA, racecourses and horsemen.

The changes will also help implementation of the outcomes of the Strategy for Growth review later this year, and also continue to provide support, as and when required by the Chief Executive, to the significant agenda of the BHA Executive.

Morag Gray, with BHA since its inception, Justin Wadham, a Director since 2010, and Mark Johnston and Bill Farnsworth, currently nominated by the shareholders, who all reach the end of their terms in 2014, have agreed to extend their contracts in order to assist with the important transition.

Gray and Wadham will work with the Board until October 2014. Gray continues to play a key role in many areas, including Fixture List and the Strategy for Growth work, particularly training, community and welfare matters.  Wadham supports the Board in a variety of areas and provides specialist advice in regulation and legal support. Both will continue to support the BHA and Racing in various aspects after October.

Mark Johnston completed his term as nominee of the three ‘horsemen’ shareholders in April. However he, with the support of the Horsemen’s Group (on behalf of these shareholders), has agreed to remain until the end of July.

Likewise, the RCA nominee, Bill Farnsworth, kindly extended his term for a further year in 2013 and will leave the Board at the end of July.

Discussions are in hand with the Horsemen’s Group and RCA to move from a ‘representative’ approach to an improved process, whereby all Directors would be independent and all shareholders would have input to all Independent Director appointments.

Steve Harman, Chairman of BHA, said: “This is an important time for BHA as we develop the way we operate and grasp the growth opportunities that this great sport enjoys.

“I am delighted existing Directors have agreed to stay on to help us with this process. Morag and Justin have provided invaluable contributions and I am very happy that they have agreed to support Racing and the BHA in various roles after they leave the Board. Morag’s racecourse management experience plus her training and welfare expertise have provided great insights to the Board and will continue to do so, while Justin as both a specialist lawyer and a hands-on horseman has added much quality on key issues. The Board values their judgement and support highly, and look forward to this continuing.

“Mark and Bill are outstanding advisers and counsels on a range of issues. They have given me, the Board and the Executive much help and wisdom, and both have agreed to help in the Strategy for Growth work, and to remain key advisers to the BHA. Mark is one of the most knowledgeable and insightful leaders I have met in Racing; and Bill is an inspirational and widely respected catalyst for improvement, and will continue to help in many ways.”

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