‘Lame-Duck Leaders Never Work’: Trainers Criticize BHA Leader’s Reaction To COVID-19 Shutdown

First reported by the Sunday Telegraph, a group of high-profile trainers’ emails to British Horseracing Authority chair, Annamarie Phelps, were leaked this weekend, calling on BHA chief executive Nick Rust to resign immediately. Mark Johnston and Ralph Beckett were among those leading the charge in the wake of delays to re-start racing following the COVID-19 shutdown.

Rust announced his intention to retire from his position as CEO in January of this year, but is currently serving a year-long period of notice.

“Nick should have gone when he resigned,” trainer Hughie Morrison told The Guardian on Monday. “Lame-duck leaders never work. They’re positioning themselves to look good, so they can get another job. They’re not going to be brave. And then there’s a terrible vacuum within that organization. Everyone below him is now terrified of making a mistake, possibly because they’re positioning themselves to take his job.”

The BHA did create the “Resumption of Racing Group,” which over the past several weeks has developed protocols and plans to resume live racing as soon as possible. Johnston, who suffered a bout with the coronavirus earlier this month, argued that the BHA hasn’t gone far enough to push for racing’s resumption.

“It was a BHA decision to stop and it needs to be a BHA decision to restart, which government will no doubt look at, but don’t expect them to plan it for us,” Johnston told The Guardian. “The BHA have different contingency plans for various scenarios and should be going public with that and stating their intention to start, with lifting of lockdown being the most obvious trigger. Once they have stated those intentions, then government may at worst scupper them or ignore it, condone it or query certain parts of it. But I think that’s the way it has to happen, not us waiting for them to tell us: ‘Go ahead, guys.’”

In response to the story about the leaked emails in the Sunday Telegraph, the Board of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) issued the following statement:

“The BHA Board met briefly this morning to discuss media reporting of criticism of the BHA and its Chief Executive.  The Board – which includes members nominated by the organisations representing horsemen and racecourses – understands the pressures on all in racing at present and recognizes that BHA executives benefit from constructive feedback from participants. There will be very few sports or businesses in which similar dialogue isn’t going on given the nature of the crisis. The Board asks that to be done in accordance with racing’s values, to be respectful and not single out individuals unfairly for carrying out their role.

“The racing industry, like everyone at this time, puts the health of the public and our participants first.  This was clear in our decision to suspend racing and is a central focus of our planning for resumption.

“Our CEO Nick Rust and his team are acting in support of decisions taken by an industry group, endorsed by the BHA’s Members Committee and enacted by the BHA Board. Our staff are focusing their efforts right now on planning for the resumption of racing as soon as possible. They are working in full collaboration with trainers, racecourses and others.

“Good progress has been made and racing will have detailed proposals incorporating expert medical opinion to present to government as it prepares to review the current restrictions. It is encouraging to see the positive results of our dialogue with government in weekend media reports of the government’s desire for sport to resume.

“Nick, his team, and the industry colleagues with whom they are working so closely, are looking forward and are united in wanting the sport to resume as soon as it is possible. They have the Board’s full and unequivocal support.”

The post ‘Lame-Duck Leaders Never Work’: Trainers Criticize BHA Leader’s Reaction To COVID-19 Shutdown appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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