Sulekha takes over at Aintree

A woman is to be in charge of the Aintree Grand National for the first time. The new head of Jockey Club racecourses in the north-west, including Aintree, is to be Sulekha Varma, aged 34.

She has progressed through racing ranks to be appointed as clerk of the course at Aintree, where she will take over from Andrew Tulloch. Andrew had been in charge of the Grand National for almost 25 years, and is relinquishing his role after the Becher Chase meeting at Aintree, this Saturday, December 7.

Sulhekha Varma Photo: John Simpson

Sulekha Varma’s current role had been racing manager and clerk of the course at Hamilton Park.

Sulekha Varma told reporters the she was ‘honoured’ to be appointed to one of the most senior roles in racing.

She added: “While British racing has faced and will face challenges, I hope Aintree will continue to be at the forefront of addressing many of those and showcasing our wonderful sport to an ever-wider audience.”

Sulekha originally began as a trainee clerk of the course with the Jockey Club at Haydock in 2009,  and one of her concerns is opposition to racing because of equine deaths.

She believes that the sport needs to maintain high saferty standards for horses more effectively, and improve them.

Sulekha has extensive experience to her credit, having been clerk of the course at Nottingham, Market Rasen, Warwick and Huntingdon between 2010 and 2016. she is already a familiar face at Aintree, having worked closely alongside the team for the past ten years during the Grand National festival.