Newmarket native Kate Grimwade has returned to her home town to take up the role of general manager for Roger Varian's stable.
Grimwade grew up on the National Stud where her father Joe was manager and was later among the original 12 trainees for the inaugural Darley (now Godolphin) Flying Start programme. On the course she met Hanako Sonobe, who later married Varian.
“It's nearly 20 years ago that we started the Flying Start, which seems crazy, but Hanako and all of us from the course have remained very good friends, particularly the girls,” says Grimwade. “Then I did the sales with Roger and Hana last year, and Roger couldn't go to the Breeders' Cup but Hana had a runner and she asked me to go. Things built from there really, and Roger offered me this new role, which is really exciting.”
Grimwade has had international experience in training and pre-training yards. After graduating from the Flying Start she worked as racing manager to Gai Waterhouse in Australia before heading Godolphin's pre-training operation for eight years back in Newmarket. She later returned to Australia to take up the role as assistant trainer to James Cummings.
“My role now is probably what Australian trainers would describe as a racing manager but Roger has a racing manager so I am very much not that,” she says. “I think it's very forward-thinking of Roger to create this role. His [horse] numbers have grown dramatically in the 10 years that he has had a licence so I think he has seen a gap for someone to come in. I'll sit between the assistant trainer and Roger and have an overview of the equine side of the business. Hopefully as time goes on I can take on some of Roger's existing workload to free him up to concentrate on the important things.”
Grimwade adds, “He has a great team already–a very strong team of head lads who each look after a different division of the yard and then obviously he has an assistant and pupil assistant, so there is still that sort of classic structure within the yard.”
Since returning to England from Australia the second time, Grimwade has been employed as a key worker through the pandemic at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.
She says, “I've had a year and a half out of racing so I have had a good freshen up. I think it has been really good for me because I grew up in racing and left school at 16 so it's been good to get a bit of perspective. It also makes you feel very grateful for your health.”
Grimwade, who started earlier this week at Varian's Carlburg Stables on Newmarket's Bury Road, situated between the yards of Sir Michael Stoute and John Gosden, adds, “The house I grew up in overlooked the July Course and then when I was working for Godolphin I was on the Rowley Mile, so I am gradually working my way across town. It's really exciting to get to know those gallops really well as the two sides of town are quite different.”