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Friday, 11 March 2016

The Scottish racing scene is flying and Hamilton Park Racecourse is leading the way – that’s why they’ve taken on one of the sport’s brightest talents to keep them at the front of the pack.

Sulekha Varma has been appointed to the Lanarkshire venue in a new full-time racing manager position.

It’s a big-role for the ambitious 30-year-old – but she is already firmly in the saddle.

She said: “Hamilton Park Racecourse has a reputation for being innovative and forward thinking in its methods and practices and I was attracted to the opportunity to be a part of that.

“There is a varied and exciting season of racing and there will be some great stories to tell along the way as well as the opportunity to improve and develop the race programme so it can continue to grow and lead the way as the shape of the racing industry changes.”

Scotland’s race courses enjoyed a bumper 2015. Around 308,000 punters headed to one of the country’s venues – with Hamilton Park Racecourse seeing an increase in attendances by 4.7per cent to more than 55,000.

Top class guests, including former Towie star Mark Wright, might have drawn the crowds but the sport has remained a central focus and integral part of a wider social occasion.

And Sulekha’s knowledge will help build the course’s reputation as one of the best north of the border.

Just a few months into the role she has already launched a full analysis of the race programme and hopes to encourage even more runners to the course.

She is particularly interested in the technical aspects of running horseracing, whether that’s safety improvements, the framing of races or turf management practices.

She said: “Hamilton Park Racecourse is in an excellent position already, with an award winning ground-staff team producing high quality sportsturf, exciting racing and enjoyable entertainment. However, all racecourses must evolve to meet the changing needs of their customers. Those customers are not just the members of the public but also the trainers, owners, jockeys, stable staff and other horsemen who all expect the very best experience when they come to the course. I want to make sure all of our customers leave Hamilton Park looking forward to and planning their next visit, whether they’ve won or not.

“There have been some very talented equine and human individuals competing at Hamilton in recent years and the local people should, I think, be proud that they are hosting these individuals on the doorstep.”

Sulekha’s impressive CV includes Clerk of the Course at Jockey Club Racecourse’s Warwick and Huntingdon, Market Rasen and Nottingham.

It’s been a winding road to the forefront of Scottish racing at Hamilton Park Racecourse for Sulekha and it’s hard to believe it all started with a chance week of work experience at local yard in Kinross, Perthshire.

She said: “It was purely by chance but when I think back, it must have been fate.” But one outing on a race-horse and she was hooked. The horse I was riding wasn’t that quick, in fact, he only ever ran in a few races and sadly wasn’t very good, but when it’s your first time, the speed takes your breath away. The speed that a racehorse travels is exhilarating.”

A race meeting followed and the early seeds of Sulekha’s career were sown. She said: “Racing was still new to me at the time and it was exciting watching the horses that I had been involved with during my placement running on the track. It firstly made me realise that there was a lot for me to learn, but also that I wanted to learn as much as I could.”

Sulekha is now back north of the border – and revelling in her new role. And it certainly wasn’t just chance as the dedicated racing fan learned her craft and honed her contacts. Whilst studying for a Classical Studies degree at Durham University she kept in touch with the staff at her old yard and regularly lead-up runners at nearby Hexham Racecourse in her free-time.

After graduating Sulekha landed a place on the prestigious British Horseracing Authority Graduate Programme, which offered a programme covering all aspects of the sport – from breeding and sales, to training and veterinary work and culminated in a work placement at the Racing Post in London.

She said: “It made me realise how huge the racing industry really is and how many opportunities there are.”

For more information on Hamilton Park Racecourse’s facilities and fixtures visit www.hamilton-park.co.uk.



Hamilton Park Racecourse is an award-winning horse racing destination, with a first class season of fixtures and so much more. As well as offering top racing action from May to September, the venue offers exciting entertainment and themed days and nights, truly offering something for everyone. From family days and the famous Lanark Silver Bell event, to the legendary Saints and Sinners Racenight and Ladies’ Nights featuring leading DJs, bands and entertainers, Hamilton Park Racecourse is a must-visit for a great day or night out.