The coronavirus pandemic may have deprived us of an in-person Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards but the sport’s everyday heroes were honoured with a virtual ceremony on Monday 22 February, with Rebecca ‘Beck’ Edmunds of Bryan Smart Racing named the 2021 Employee of the Year.
Beck will receive £10,000 for herself after being named the Employee of the Year and a further £10,000 to be shared among her colleagues at Bryan Smart Racing, as well as the perpetual Godolphin Trophy.
Earlier in the evening, Beck won the Leadership Award, which itself carried prize-money of £5,000 for the winner and the same amount to be shared among their colleagues, meaning Beck and the Bryan Smart Racing team each walked away with £15,000.
Beck, Head Girl to trainer Bryan Smart, has worked at the yard in Thirsk for 17 years and was nominated by her boss in light of what he described as her “exceptional knowledge… unwavering dedication and loyalty”. He also cited the attention to detail when working with horses or humans displayed by Beck, who works at the business with her husband, Smart’s Assistant Trainer Kevin.
The judges agreed with Smart’s assessment of Beck and were particularly struck by the extent to which her colleagues view her as a mentor and a role model. Her ability to think outside the box, they noted, had never been put to better use than during a 12 months when the COVID-19 pandemic had a big impact on working patterns and practices. Her empathy for horses also shone through, making her a superb ambassador not only for her yard but the sport as a whole.
The combined £30,000 claimed by Beck for winning the Employee of the Year and Leadership Awards was part of prize-money totalling £128,500 handed out during a free-to-air broadcast hosted by ITV Racing’s Ed Chamberlin on Racing TV.
The Awards are organised by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) in conjunction with media partners The Racing Post and Racing TV.
Nick Luck, Chair of the Judging Panel, said:
“There surely cannot be many prizes as difficult to judge as the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards. Everybody nominated is so deserving of the recognition winning brings and it was a pleasure to get to know the individuals put forward by their colleagues for consideration this year.
“Beck is a most deserving winner of the Employee of the Year Award and all of her colleagues at Bryan Smart Racing should rightly feel very proud this evening.
“We know that the continuation of racing over the past few months has had a positive impact on the mental health of the sport’s fans during a most difficult year, so it is right that we acknowledge the sacrifices made by racing staff to make this possible. These dedicated and talented people have worked hard throughout to provide world-class care to our horses, ensuring they are fit and ready to perform at the highest level for our entertainment.
“My congratulations go to all of our winners this evening, as well as those nominated. I also would also like to extend the thanks of the judging panel to racing staff for their incredible work in the last 12 months.”
Julie Harrington, Chief Executive of the BHA, said:
“I have always been struck by the dedication, professionalism and passion shown by our remarkable stud and stable staff. While it is always true that those of us who love our sport and our horses owe a debt of gratitude to them, it feels even more necessary this year to say the most heartfelt “thank you”.
“Racing was privileged to be one of the very first sports to resume last summer and our racing and stable staff played a vital role in making this happen, adapting brilliantly to significant changes in working practices, while continuing to provide a high level care to the horses entrusted to them. I am proud to say that I work in the same industry as them and would like to say a massive thank you not only to all those nominated tonight but everybody working in yards and studs up and down the country.
“My heartfelt congratulations go to Beck and all of this evening’s winners.”
The other category winners and runners-up on the night were (winners emboldened):
Alice Price – Ben Pauling
Jaydon Lee – Nicky Henderson
Chrissie Sykes – Ruth Carr
Rebecca ‘Beck’ Edmunds -Bryan Smart
Alex Cairns – James Fanshawe
Lauren Webb – Daniel & Claire Kubler
Joanna Łacisz – Sir Michael Stoute
Sarah Peacock – Tom George
Faisal – Richard Phillips
Elody Swann – Newsells Park Stud
Tom Hughes – Hazelwood Bloodstock
Martin Languillet – Fittocks Stud
Joline Saunders – Richard Phillips
Guianand Bissessur – William Haggas
Debbie Howie – John Gosden
Also honoured was Richard Phillips, who collected the Community Award, presented in recognition of the wonderful work Rory MacDonald achieved at The British Racing School. The runners-up in this category were: Simon Jones (Charity Fundraiser) and Samantha Trainor (National Horseracing College).
A celebratory event is being planned for the summer of 2021 to honour the evening’s winners and nominees and will take place subject to Government guidance.