Rabbetts starts in the role on Monday (24 April), reporting to the organisation's comms director Scott Bowers. He was appointed to help convert more people into fans of horseracing, which, according to Bowers is already the second-largest spectator sport in the UK.
Rabbetts, who has spent almost 20 years as a journalist, said he was "delighted to be joining the Jockey Club, especially at such an exciting time for horse-racing in our country".
In November 2015 Rabbetts was appointed executive editor at New Day, a standalone national newspaper that ceased publication in May last year. Before this he had been head of news at the Daily Mirror since 2015, his LinkedIn profile states. He returned to the Mirror as executive editor after New Day's closure.
Bowers, who joined The Jockey Club in 2010 from Weber Shandwick, added that Rabbetts would bring an in-depth knowledge of a sport that he is "passionate" about, as well as the expertise to bring horse-racing to an even wider audience.
Bowers told PRWeek more than six million people attend horseracing events each year, with many millions more watching racing on TV.
He said: "Barry's role was created so we can build on the resurgence in horse-racing, and convince more people who go for 'a day at the races' to attend multiple events each year."
The Jockey Club, which was founded by Royal Charter and reinvests all profits back into the sport, stages some of the UK's largest horse-racing events, including The Derby, Grand National and Cheltenham Festival.