Horse Racing Ireland CEO Brian Kavanagh announces decision to step down after 20 years of service

After 20 years of being in charge of Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) as the Chief Executive Officer, Brian Kavanagh announced his resignation from the role last week, from September.


Horse Racing Ireland is known to the public as the commercial semi-state body responsible for the development, administration, and governance of thoroughbred racing in Ireland. Reports have it that they have started their plans on launching a recruitment campaign for a potential new chief executive. Nick Hartery, who is the current chairman of HRI, took to the media to praise Kavanagh for his "incredible" acts in the last twenty years.


Speaking to the media, he said: "I would like to thank Brian Kavanagh for 20 years of incredible service and deep commitment to Horse Racing Ireland and the industry in Ireland.


Irish Horseracing Authority chief Brian Kavanagh
Irish Horseracing Authority chief Brian Kavanagh


"Brian was the first CEO of Horse Racing Ireland when appointed in 2001, and during his time he has played a huge role in Irish racing and breeding, enabling it to become a leader on the global stage while domestically overseeing the growth of a vital rural-based industry. His knowledge and expertise, at home and abroad, will no doubt ensure that Brian will continue to play a significant part in the industry, and we wish him well."


Kavanagh, who has the CEO position for so many years, talked about his work in the last few months in horse racing, which is currently trying to scale through a rough patch, and BoyleSports racing has also been undergoing some changes due to this.

He said to the media: "It has been a privilege to serve as chief executive of Horse Racing Ireland and to work under three different chairmen who each promoted a strategic vision for the Irish horse racing and breeding industries.


"It is a sector full of variety and of really talented people and I have nothing but good memories of the projects and people that I have dealt with on the way. I would like to pay particular tribute to the Board members and staff of Horse Racing Ireland, past and present, whose commitment and dedication to the improvement of the industry have been a constant during my time as chief executive.”


Irish racing was claimed a major success in the recent Cheltenham Festival where they were able to register a record-breaking 23 winners from the raiding party. The previous record of 19 wins, which was set in 2017, is a direct result of the pursuit of excellence put in place by Kavanagh, whether this applies to top flight Jumping stock, to the support for youngstock graduatinmg through Point-to-Points or Derby winners.


The Cheltenham victories were secured due to the amazing efforts from Willie Mullins, Denise Foster and Henry de Bromhead as they led their Irish colleagues to leave their rivals trailing behind. But even so, lesser lights also shone, like Paul Nolan, whose Mrs Mullins won the Pertemps Final.


Even with this success, Kavanagh said that Irish racing doesn't need to rest on its laurels; there is much work to do from now to September along with the challenges they will be facing. "Last week was a good week for racing, but we cannot rest on our laurels and there is much work to do between now and September,” he added.


"While Brexit and Covid-19 are currently providing significant challenges, there are wonderful opportunities facing the sector also. Our horses and our people are our greatest strength."


With new leaders in place in the racing authorities in Britain and Ireland, we'll need all the expertise we can muster to bring about a renaissance of the sport post-Covid, but also to win a better standard of racing in Britain.

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