Getting to know Alastair King

Next up in our #NationalCareersWeek look into the different jobs here at Newbury, Assistant Head Groundsman Alastair King has let us know how he came to work in the racing industry.

When did you start work at Newbury Racecourse?

I started in 2014, my first meeting was the Hennessy Gold Cup when it was over three days – a baptism of fire.

What did you do prior to working here?

Before I joined Newbury I worked at Newmarket Racecourse for 3 years as part of the grounds team. Prior to this I worked in my home town Wincanton a Groundsman/Greenkeeper at Wincanton Racecourse for 12 years.

What was your first job here?

I started, and still am, Assistant Head Groundsman here at Newbury. I work closely with the Head Groundsman and the Clerk of the Course to ensure we have a consistently good racing surface despite the sometimes challenging conditions and ensure the racecourse estate looks presentable for our customers. On a raceday I can be found following the field in my truck alongside the doctors, vets and ambulances ensuring our processes our followed to ensure the safety of all of our our stakeholders.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I am a keen photographer and am often annoying my family by walking 10 paces behind snapping away. Last year my wife and I welcomed a baby girl and since then she’s taken most of the limelight (much to the relief of my wife and our Whippet Millie). It’s been great to combine work and play in recent weeks and take more shots of Newbury to be used on social media, it’s certainly a skill I hope to do much more with in the future.  

What advice would you have for someone looking to get into a similar line of work?

My advice would be to get some work experience, ask to shadow on a raceday perhaps to see if you like the role. Then find a job on a racecourse and build your way up from there. From experience it’s best to try and move around a bit and work at a few racecourses so you can gain a better knowledge of how different tracks work. Also look for courses to improve your knowledge of turf management, grass isn’t just grass and these qualifications can help you reach the top quicker.