Brian ‘Jock’ Bennett was today named Employee of the Year at the ninth annual Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards Ceremony, which took place at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel in London’s Knightsbridge.
The assistant trainer, employed by Mark Johnston, was presented with the perpetual Godolphin Trophy by presenter Clare Balding and special guest presenter Richard Hughes. Jock was also presented with a cheque for a staggering £30,000, of which £15,000 will be shared amongst the staff at the Johnston yard.
In over 40 years of continuous service, Jock has worked for just two trainers. Among the highlights of his time with Bill Watts was travelling Teleprompter to the Arlington Million in 1985. Upon Watts’ retirement in 1997, Jock joined Mark Johnston Racing, initially as a yardman before taking up the role of assistant trainer.
A specially invited audience from across the racing industry gathered at the glamorous ceremony with the finalists and their families and employers to celebrate the vital role of stud and stable staff around the country in making racing such an outstanding sport.
All 16 finalists, including the winner of the inaugural Administration Staff Award, were praised by the judges for their skill, outstanding dedication and contribution to the racing industry.
The winners were decided at a formal judging day held yesterday at the British Horseracing Authority’s London headquarters, where each of the finalists was interviewed by members of the judging panel.
Brough Scott, Chairman of the Panel commented:
“Jock Bennett should be an inspiration, not just for racing but for life itself. He links old-fashioned values with ground breaking ways without ever losing the thrill that lifted him from the beginning.
“This was a truly wonderful set of winners. Racing is very lucky to have them.”
Generously sponsored by Godolphin and run by the British Horseracing Authority in conjunction with the Racing Post, the Awards offer £120,000 in prize money across the six categories.
Each individual category winner collected £5,000, with their respective yard receiving the same amount to be shared between colleagues. The two runners-up in each category also received £2,000, with their yards also collecting the same amount. The winner of the David Nicholson Newcomer Award was awarded £2,000, with the same amount awarded to their yard, while the two runners-up received £1,000 each with the same amount awarded to their yard.
The full list of winners and runners up are as follows:
HIGH ACHIEVER AWARD:
Winner: Robin Trevor-Jones, Travelling Head Lad – Ed Dunlop
Runners up: Dominique Dainton-McElroy, head girl – Donald McCain;
Anthony Cromby, Head Lad – Sir Michael Stoute.
Winner: Seamus O’Gorman, Work Rider – Saeed bin Suroor
Runners up: Paul Burns, Travelling Head Lad/Breaking in yearlings – Brian Meehan;
Caroline Hovington, Senior Stable Lass – Ed Walker
STUD STAFF AWARD:
Winner: Cheryl Cory, Head Girl – Goldford Stud
Runners up: Kevin Gossage, Stud Groom/Assistant Manager – Aislabie Stud;
Gill Murphy, Second In Charge – Stowell Hill Stud.
DEDICATION TO RACING AWARD:
Winner: Brian ‘Jock’ Bennett, Assistant Trainer – Mark Johnston
Runners up: Gerry McCormack, Head Lad – John Gosden;
Steve Raymont, Head Lad – Roger Charlton
DAVID NICHOLSON NEWCOMER AWARD:
Winner: Laura Hamilton-Smith, Second Girl – Chasemore Farm
Runners Up: Holly Harper, Stable Lass – Rose Dobbin;
Jack Teal, Stable Lad/ Amateur Jockey – Malcolm Jefferson
ADMINISTRATION STAFF AWARD:
Winner: Jim Hiner, Racing Secretary – Roger Varian
The Awards were judged by a panel comprising celebrated author and journalist Brough Scott (Chairman); the leading former trainers Ian Balding and Jack Berry; Dinah Nicholson, wife of the late David Nicholson for who the Newcomer award is named in his honour; Judith Allen, chief executive of the British Horseracing and Education Standards Trust; Kerry Murphy, chief executive of the European Breeders’ Fund; and George McGrath, chief executive of National Association of Stable Staff.