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Horse racing Harding in line for landmark Jockey Club appointment

BARONESS HARDING is in line to become the first woman in the Jockey Club’s 273-year history to be appointed as senior steward.

The role is currently held by Sandy Dudgeon, but when his term expires in July, Harding is poised to take over the unpaid position chairing the Jockey Club’s main board, which sets the strategic direction of the organisation and oversees the executive functions.

Harding was appointed to the board of stewards in 2017 and it is understood she is the only name that will be put to a vote by Jockey Club members later this month.

A spokesperson for the Jockey Club, which owns high-profile racecourses such as Epsom, Newmarket, Cheltenham and Aintree, said: “Sandy Dudgeon’s term as senior steward runs until July 2024 and we will announce his successor in due course.”

Dido Harding is perhaps more famously known for her role as former chief executive of TalkTalk and her controversial appointment to oversee the government’s much-criticised test-and-trace programme during the coronavirus pandemic — a programme labelled a failure, costing the taxpayer £22 billion.

She has, however, had a more successful career as a jockey — riding more than 25 winners as an amateur and owning 1998 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Cool Dawn, the horse she had ridden the previous year to finish second in the festival hunter chase.

Harding more recently won the Magnolia Cup in 2017, winning Goodwood’s charity race at the third attempt having previously finished second twice.

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