From India to British horseracing

27 Sep 23

Motivated by the power of sport to change lives, Jithin Parammal Ambadi joined the BHA in July 2023 as part of the British Horseracing Development Programme. To mark National Inclusion Week, Jithin describes his journey from a small town in India to the heart of British racing, his initial experiences of the industry and its people, and his ambitions for the future.

I hail from a small town called Kondotty in the southern state of Kerala, India. Kerala is a unique state known for its passion for football, a stark contrast to the cricket-crazy nation that India often is. Our state’s sporting landscape is diverse, producing Olympic medal-winning female and male athletes.

Despite this rich sporting tradition, the world of horseracing remained largely alien to me and the people of Kerala. Horseracing was typically associated with the people of metropolitan cities in India, far removed from our daily lives. It was a sport that we heard of but never had the opportunity to experience firsthand.

Jithin enjoying National Racehorse Week

Today, I find myself proudly working in the highly regarded British Horseracing Development Programme placement at the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), a dream journey that has been fulfilling.

Determined career change

My journey into the British Racing began as a planned career change. I was working in the oil and gas industry in Dubai in 2020 when I decided to change my career towards sports. I was motivated by the power of sport for social inclusion and my determination to find my first full-time job in sport that resonated with my values and aspirations. My background as a competitive long-distance athlete and my voluntary involvement in diverse communities back home, where I used sports as a vehicle for social change, fuelled my desire for this transition.

This pursuit of a career in sports led me to the UK in 2021, where I enrolled in an MSc in Sport, Management, Politics, and International Development at Loughborough University. Here, I conducted distinction-winning research on gender and social justice in sports and played an award-winning advocacy role in the Students’ Union, representing international students and effecting positive change.

During this period, I was actively seeking an exciting job with sports regulatory body that gives me scope to contribute to industry strategies, specifically diversity and inclusion. The opportunity arrived shortly after I had graduated when I successfully applied to join the British Horseracing Development Programme, coordinated by the Careersinracing team.

The programme offered placements with various organisations in the industry. What drew me to the BHA in particular was its commitment to diversity and inclusion, as reflected in its latest strategy. The industry’s willingness to be transparent about its challenges and its approach to addressing them resonated with my values and vision for a sports-for-all culture. The interview process was an inclusive experience where I could showcase my abilities and aspirations and convey my excitement about the prospect of working in British Racing.

When the BHA offered me the job, it was a dream come true moment, and my excitement level was sky-high because my placement would start in the historic Newmarket – the home of British Racing!

Transformative experience in Newmarket

Jithin at the British Racing School

The placement started with a two-week residential induction at British Racing School (BRS) in Newmarket, along with 16 other participants sponsored by different employers in the industry. In the initial week, I was more of an observer, studying the sport, the industry, and its people, all of which were foreign to me. There was a good mix of genders, age groups (ranging from 20s to early 30s), and experience levels amongst us, making it a diverse group. The thoughtfully designed induction introduced us to British Racing through a series of lectures, visits, and race days. It became clear to me that I had found my industry.

Standout moments from the induction include witnessing my very first horseraces at Leicester and Newmarket’s July Festival, gaining exclusive behind-the- scenes access to the races, and visiting Rossdales Veterinary Surgeons Institution, which reaffirmed the industry’s unwavering commitment to horse welfare.

Visiting iconic locations like Sir Mark Prescott’s yard, the Jockey Club, the National Horse Racing Museum, Tattersalls, and the National Stud provided a deeper appreciation for the rich history and diverse individuals that make British Racing among the best in the world. One particularly memorable moment was the resounding cheer from other participant when I rode an equicizer for the first time in my life!

The participants soon became my first friends in British Racing, and the entire experience was truly transformative, instilling in me the confidence and excitement to start my placement with BHA at its London office.

Learning and development at the BHA

Joining the BHA marked a significant milestone in my career journey. I found myself working in a modern and supportive work environment in London, surrounded by colleagues who were always ready to help and encourage me to settle in quickly. I have finished two months in the job working with the Communications and Corporate Affairs Department. I can already feel that I am provided with opportunities to learn and grow by senior managers based on the merit of my skills and aspirations.

Jithin at Emma Lavelle’s yard during National Racehorse Week

Currently, I am involved in contributing to the planning of the Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards (TIEA), a prestigious event that celebrates the people who love and care for our racehorses. I am looking forward to the awards night in February. I am also helping to coordinate a diversity and inclusion event, aimed at engaging young people from ethnic minority backgrounds.

I have also had the privilege of volunteering for National Racehorse Week (NRW), providing me with the opportunity to witness the well-lived lives of racehorses and engage with stable staff from diverse ethnic backgrounds who play an integral role in the sport.

The journey from India to British Racing has been a rewarding one. The BHA has not only provided me with a platform to pursue my interests and aspirations but has also empowered me to be a part of positive change within the industry. As I continue to grow in my career, I am excited to contribute further to the world of British Racing and play my part in making it even more accessible and inclusive for all.