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Sulekha Varma relishing first Grand National as clerk of the course

Tue 11 Feb 2020

Sulekha Varma is excited at the prospect of her first Randox Health Grand National as clerk of the course at Aintree.

Varma succeeded Andrew Tulloch in December, but had been part of the team responsible for the Grand National Festival for 10 years.

She had been racing manager and clerk of the course at Hamilton Park since 2016, having started her career as a trainee with Jockey Club Racecourses at Haydock Park in 2009.

She went on to serve as clerk of the course at four other Jockey Club tracks – Nottingham, Market Rasen, Warwick and Huntingdon – between 2010 and 2016.

“To be doing the Grand National is unbelievable, it’s almost beyond words. When you start in this line of work these are the jobs you dream of, to actually have it is superb,” Varma said.

“It’s the equivalent of a footballer playing in the Cup Final.

“As a racecourse Aintree is never averse to change, the race has changed a lot in recent years and that has been successfully executed. We’ve all continued to consult and innovate and research and learn where we can.

“The aim is to maintain the improvements that have been made, the changes that we have seen have been successful.”

On being first female to oversee the world’s greatest steeplechase, Varma said: “It’s a sign of the way our industry is going – there are women in top roles across the sport now.

“I’ve been chatting to Annamarie Phelps earlier, Rose Patterson is chairman of Aintree and Delia Bushell is chief executive of the Jockey Club, so it’s the way things are going, which is great. We operate in a meritocratic employment sphere.”

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