In this feature for #GroundsWeek Brighton Racecourse’s new Clerk of the Course, Stephanie Wethered, tells us how she worked her way into the racing industry, what she’s looking forward to about their upcoming season, and what she thinks the industry can do to attract more people into the sport and turf management roles.
Q. What attracted you to the racing industry, and how did you get into Clerking?
“I had always liked racing and really fancied working within the industry, so decided to study International Equine & Agricultural Business Management at Royal Agricultural University.
“As part of my degree I completed a 20-week placement at Lingfield Park, where I spent time working in all departments within the business; particularly enjoying my time with the Grounds Team and Racing Office. I found I really enjoyed being involved in setting up for racedays and seeing all the hard work behind the scenes come to fruition for each fixture.
“I had never thought about going into Clerking before, but thought it seemed an interesting role where I could combine a variety of aspects that I enjoyed, including getting involved with track and turf management.
“I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to train by Arena Racing Company, working alongside George Hill and his team at Lingfield Park, where I was really able to learn a lot within the three and a half years I was there.”
Q. What are you looking forward to most about Brighton’s upcoming season, does the track present any different challenges from a Clerking perspective to Lingfield Park?
“I’m excited to do my first season as a qualified Clerk of the Course. I’m looking forward to getting to know all our local supporters and to our three-day Festival of Racing in the first week of August which is always the highlight of the season at Brighton.
“Every racecourse presents their own set of challenges, and Brighton is no exception! I am in the process of getting used to a completely different type of track. I’m really lucky to have a good team around me. I’m currently working alongside our Head Groundsman Richard Langley and the groundstaff team to prepare for the upcoming season.
“A notable difference is that Brighton drains very quickly and we are trying to keep the moisture in while at Lingfield Park we were often looking for ways to get rid of it.
“However, I think the most obvious challenge would be that we have two roads running through the track, which involves a lot of planning and consultation for each raceday.”
Q. What have been your experiences so far as a woman in an area of the industry that has traditionally been male-dominated? What do you think we can do to attract more people into turf management roles?
“I really enjoy working within this sector and have never felt that I am working in a male-dominated industry. Everyone has been welcoming and helpful.
“As an industry, we should continue to promote the opportunities that we have to offer to younger, upcoming generations (working with universities, colleges and schools at open days, careers fairs, placements, talks and visits) and really show and educate them on the variety of roles and opportunities available within it. It takes many roles and teamwork within the industry to produce racing at any track. Sometimes, unless you have racing in your blood, you can be naïve to what roles are out there.”