Baroness Harding of Winscombe, the former chief executive of TalkTalk, is poised to saddle up as the first woman to become senior steward of the Jockey Club in its 273-year history.
Harding, whose role would be equivalent to chairwoman, was chairwoman of NHS Improvement until October 2021, overseeing the initial phases of the Test and Trace programme after the pandemic.
Before taking charge at the telecoms group, the talented amateur jockey was previously an executive at J Sainsbury and Tesco, the supermarket chains. She was elected to its board of stewards six years ago.
The Jockey Club is governed by Royal Charter — Elizabeth II was a patron — and owns 14 racecourses, including Cheltenham, Epsom, the home of the Derby, and Aintree, the host of the Grand National.
Harding, 56, whose role will be non-executive and unpaid, will replace Sandy Dudgeon, 66, the senior steward since July 2019.
Harding’s racing interests have included more than 25 career wins as an amateur jockey and owning Cool Dawn, the winner of the 1998 Cheltenham Gold Cup. She was appointed a member of the Jockey Club in 2004.