Racecourse groundstaff take on Wembley Stadium

Pictured (from left): George Skinner, Keith Pike, Shaun Reilly (Head Groundsman), Gary Stonnell, Sulekha Varma (Clerk of the Course) plus Ceilidh the dog.
Pictured (from left): George Skinner, Keith Pike, Shaun Reilly (Head Groundsman), Gary Stonnell, Sulekha Varma (Clerk of the Course) plus Ceilidh the dog.
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Fresh from being chosen as the best at any jumps only racing track in England, the groundstaff at Huntingdon Racecourse are taking on the cream of their profession in other sports.

They are among five finalists at this year’s Professional Sports Ground Team of the Year awards where they are up against Wembley Stadium, Swansea City Football Club’s Liberty Stadium, Leeds Rhinos (Headingley Carnegie Stadium) and the Hurlingham private members’ club in west London.

As well as the groundstaff team as a whole, Head Groundsman Shaun Reilly is in the last two in the John Deere Professional Horse Racing Groundsman of the Year, a category which he won in 2012.

The awards are run by the Institute of Groundsmanship and will be decided on 5 December at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.

Nadia Gollings, General Manager, and Sulekha Varma, Clerk of the Course, of Huntingdon Racecourse, said: “Coming soon after being judged first in England and second overall among British jumps only racecourses, this is another fantastic accolade for Shaun and his team of three. To make the finals in two categories and to be compared with Wembley Stadium is a magnificent achievement and we look forward to the awards ceremony in December.”

The groundstaff at Huntingdon Racecourse are certainly busy at present, with five more fixtures in 2013. Those include the inaugural Boongate Kia Peterborough Winter Ladies’ Day on Saturday 23 November, Betfred Peterborough Chase Day on Thursday 12 December and Stan James Boxing Day on Thursday 26 December.

The best dressed lady on Winter Ladies’ Day will win a Kia Rio car for a year, courtesy of the day’s sponsor – Boongate Kia of Peterborough. The fixture also features the first running of the Boongate Kia Cambridgeshire National which, at three and three-quarter miles, is the longest race run at the track.

Tickets booked in advance for racing days at Huntingdon Racecourse are discounted by ten per cent at www.huntingdon-racecourse.co.uk or on the ticket hotline on 0844 579 3007. Main Enclosure tickets are £13.50 in advance (£18 on Boxing Day), while accompanied children aged 17 and under are always admitted free of charge to the racecourse. Students receive 33% discount when booking online.