I am a 19-year-old British Pakistani born in London, who currently studies International Relations and Politics in Manchester. As an avid sports fan, I’ve always been observant of different sports and was recently fascinated with the way combat sports such as Boxing and MMA work from a business perspective. And that’s why I started my own management and promotional company with the first event taking place in February. My focus was entirely on combat sports until I was given the opportunity to partake in the Step on Track Programme. My cultural heritage is linked to Sindh in Pakistan where horses are seen as part of a norm in prominent tribes and that is what led me to fall in love with them. We would often go to the races every time I visited Karachi on my holidays, but it had been sometime since I had gotten the opportunity to, until October this year.
I heard about the Step on Track Programme through ‘Careers in Racing’ while searching for opportunities in the sporting sector to broaden my experiences outside academia. I was on the lookout for something out of the box, something completely different from my political work experience background and had surprisingly stumbled upon this opportunity. I immediately showed my interest by applying and was pleasantly surprised when Sean Simara got in contact with me via email. After a brief phone call with Sean, I was on my way to London from Manchester to attend the programme at Lingfield Park Racecourse.
On arrival, I was greeted by Sean Simara and Michelle Douglas in the Boardroom enclosure at The Marriot Hotel & Country Club. We had an introductory chat about ourselves and then met the other attendees to the programme, mostly coming from a youth organisation by the name of 2020 Change. After receiving the brochure for the races, we then made our way downstairs to view how each stable prepare their horses. A conversation with Sky Sports Racing was also one of the highlights of the programme as we got an insight into the role of social and broadcast media in the horseracing industry. Before we knew it, the first race was about to commence, and we headed over to the stands to watch. All the attendees had this sudden boost of adrenaline and it lasted till the finish line. I’ve seen a few live races when I was younger but living it at Lingfield Park must take the top of the list.
The Step on Track Programme has allowed me to not only experience exciting racing from one of the best all-weather racecourses in the UK, but also led me to dive into the other aspects of the sport which are easily overlooked. They play crucial roles in shaping the outcome of the event and I got to talk to some of the experts and ‘veterans’ of these areas. My next step involves finding work shadowing opportunities in the industry to help me gain some more niche experience with different members which I’ll be assisted with by Careers in Racing. I look forward to attending more Step on Track events as we’re also scheduled to go into the Headquarters in Central London very soon.
Careers in Racing and the British Horseracing Authority have done an amazing job at creating an equal playing field for ethnically diverse backgrounds and have pioneered the pathway for people like myself to work in the horseracing industry. During this day, I was able to network with likeminded individuals and have been able to strike up conversations with them regarding their experience in racing and how they plan on venturing more into horseracing. I’d like to thank the team in giving me this opportunity as I will cherish these moments forever.