Greg Nichols, chief executive of the British Horseracing Board for the past four years, will relinquish the post of running British racing's ruling body later this year.
The announcement was made on January 23 and immediately prompted speculation of the circumstances behind his decision to leave at a date yet to be settled.
A BHB statement and then Ruth Quinn, racing director of the BHB, explained that Nichols was going because of the separation of BHB's governance and commercial activities which is due to happen by the summer of this year.
The statement read: "Greg Nichols has indicated to the board that he will not be putting his name forward for the role of chief executive of racing's restructured governing authority as he would prefer not to make a long-term commitment to the position. He therefore will stand down in mid-2006 to ensure an appropriate transition period."
Quinn, the only credible internal candidate to succeed Nichols, added: "The board needs a chief executive (for the governing authority) who will commit to the position on a long-term basis. Greg‚s contract was due to expire in February, 2007 anyway and he was not in a position to commit going forward which is a great shame. He has definitely gone of his own accord."
Nicholls, an Australian who recently celebrated his 48th birthday, has always been upbeat about the state of British racing and optimistic about the future. He was head-hunted by former BHB chairman Peter Savill and enjoys a salary which was enough to attract him from the post of general manager of Racing Victoria in Australia, with responsibility for the Melbourne Cup
Unfortunately for Nichols, Savill's vision of transforming British racing's finances through database rights has foundered under attacks from bookmakers, condemnation from competition authorities and endless legal challenges.
"Greg Nichols has shown total commitment to BHB and to the development of British racing since 2002, which has been greatly appreciated by the board and by the wider industry," said Martin Broughton, the BHB chairman. "The board fully respects his decision not to put his name forward for the new role."