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Racing Authority chair named

Sir Hugh Robertson, the former Conservative sports minister who oversaw the delivery of the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games, has been appointed chair of the new Racing Authority, which is set to take over responsibility of spending levy funds.

ROA Chief Executive Charlie Liverton and Julian Richmond-Watson represent the Horsemen's Group on the Authority.

BHA chairman Steve Harman said Robertson would bring "healthy independence" to the role.

Robertson, 55, will be inducted as chair of the shadow authority this month before starting a three-year term in April 2019, when the Racing Authority is set to take over official responsibility for spending decisions from the Levy Board.

Having spent ten years in the army, including a spell in the Household Cavalry, Robertson worked with asset management company Schroders before becoming the MP for Faversham and Mid Kent in 2001.

He became minister for sport and Olympics in 2010, followed by a move to the foreign office in 2013 with responsibility for the Middle East, North Africa and counter-terrorism.

Since leaving politics in 2015, Robertson has worked for Falcon Associates– a company which advises the leadership of Dubai– and chairs the British Olympic Association.

He said: "I'm delighted to be taking on this new role in British racing. I hope my independence, experience of the wider world of sport and knowledge of sports finance will help racing make the most of this exciting new opportunity."

Robertson was chosen by a nominations committee comprising Harman, Racecourse Association chair Maggie Carver and Racehorse Owners Association president Nicholas Cooper after a search by sports recruitment company SRi.

Harman said: "We're delighted with this appointment. The shortlist was extremely high quality, reflecting where this sport is getting to in attracting talent of this calibre.

"Sir Hugh has worked tirelessly for British Olympic sport for more than ten years, and was both an advocate and supporter in the levy reform process.

"He is keen to grow the Racing Authority’s income and to drive the health and growth of the sport. He also brings a healthy independence to the Racing Authority, and significant governance experience."

It was mooted last year that the chair of the Racing Authority would also chair the proposed betting and liaison body, a sub-committee of the authority formed of representatives of racing and bookmakersthat would be involved in decision-making about racing's policy on betting.

What is the Racing Authority?

The Racing Authority forms part of the government's reforms of the levy that were brought in last April and extended the sport's central funding system to capture money bet with offshore operators.

From April 2019 the Levy Board will be abolished, with the Gambling Commission having responsibility for collecting levy funds and the Racing Authority taking over spending decisions.

Other key roles will include ensuring fair and transparent distribution of funds, funding growth, consultation with the betting industry and wider stakeholders, and the growth of the racing product.

The membership of the authority will be taken from the sport's tripartite structure, with Nick Rust and Richard Wayman representing the BHA, Maggie Carver and Stephen Atkin the Racecourse Association and Julian Richmond-Watson and Charlie Liverton the Horsemen's Group.

8 January 2018

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