Clerk of The Course

“The buzz and atmosphere on a raceday is always great and there is a real sense of satisfaction afterwards”

Edward Arkell – Clerk of the Course 

On a non-racing day I’d be in early to walk the course and catch up with the ground staff. We’ll discuss what needs doing – rail movements, watering, etc – and then it tends to be office work until I finish for the day.

Racedays are a little different. I arrive earlier than normal to walk the course with the Head Groundsman and update the going. Then I do my raceday preparation work, set up the Weighing Room and talk to trainers about the ground. We walk the track with the Chairman of Stewards two hours before the first race and then have a briefing with all the BHA Raceday Officials before racing gets underway.

I started out driving a loose Horse Catcher or Vet at Cheltenham and working in the stables at Ascot’s big flat meetings. From there I worked for John Dunlop as Pupil Assistant and then got the Trainee Clerk of the Course job at Sedgefield Racecourse – before getting my current role as Regional Clerk of the Course for the South.

It’s such a varied job that there is always something different happening and you are never doing the same thing for long. The buzz and atmosphere on a raceday is always great and there is a real sense of satisfaction after a good day having seen everything go to plan.

Without doubt the most challenging part of the job is the uncertainty of the weather. You are always trying to second guess what is going to happen, plan, re-plan and then change it again. One of the Irish Clerks once described it as ‘playing poker with the weather’, and he was spot on!