Aintree welcomes first female clerk of the course as key Grand National figure moves on *H&H Plus*

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  • The new clerk of the course for Aintree has been revealed as Andrew Tulloch prepares to step down after 24 years.

    Sulekha Varma, who has served in the role at four other Jockey Club courses and helped deliver the Grand National Festival for the past 10 years, will become the first woman to take on the position in early 2020.

    Mr Tulloch has been at the helm while the course has undergone major changes and developments in the past quarter of a century.

    He was fundamental in the £1.5m changes made to the Grand National course, fences and welfare facilities. He also co-ordinated the redevelopment of Aintree, including the building of a new parade ring, weighing room, media centre and stands.

    Mr Tulloch also has a strong background in equestrian sport. He is a former director of Burghley Horse Trials and was central in founding the Aintree International Equestrian Centre (AIEC).

    He will remain with Aintree in an advisory role and his new job is overseeing commercial activities at Bolesworth Estate — whose equestrian events include the Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show, Equitop Bolesworth Young Horse Championships and the Theraplate Liverpool International Horse Show.

    Andrew Tulloch

    “Being responsible for the world-famous Grand National has been a privilege and I have enjoyed being involved with the development and innovation to ensure Aintree, and the Grand National, remain at the forefront of both equine and jockey safety, while protecting the unique character of the race,” he said, adding he is “looking forward to a fresh challenge” with Bolesworth.

    “I am most grateful for the support and help received from the team at Aintree, my colleagues, owners, trainers, jockeys, press, the BHA and the other equestrian disciplines.”

    Ms Varma, who has been racing manager and clerk of the course at Hamilton Park since 2016, will be responsible for all aspects of racing at Aintree, oversee the AIEC and be joint clerk of the course at Carlisle.

    Since starting her career as a trainee at Haydock in 2009, she has also been clerk of the course at Nottingham, Market Rasen, Warwick and Huntingdon.

    Ms Varma said she is sad to leave the “fantastic team” at Hamilton, but is “honoured” to be taking on her new role.

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

    Dickon White, north west regional director for the Jockey Club, added the organisation is delighted to welcome Ms Varma and thanked Mr Tulloch for his “dedication and undoubted passion for racing”.

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