The British Horseracing Authority (BHA)’s Chief Medical Adviser Dr Jerry Hill has today been awarded the George Ennor Trophy for Outstanding Achievement in Racing at the Horserace Writers and Photographers Association (HWPA)’s annual “Derby Awards”.
The award is in recognition of Dr Hill’s role in British racing’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as his six years of work to improve the safety and physical and mental wellbeing of jockeys.
Dr Hill joined the BHA in 2014, having been Senior Racecourse Medical Officer at Lingfield Park racecourse, as well as a member of the Football Association Medical Committee and former Sports Physician at the 2012 London Olympics.
During his time at the BHA he has led several significant projects around jockey education, safety and wellbeing, particularly in areas such as nutrition, mental health and concussion management. His priority has always been for jockeys to consider themselves as elite athletes and develop lifestyles to suit.
In 2020 Dr Hill played a key role in devising the detailed coronavirus protocols which enabled horseracing to be the first major sport to resume following the national lockdown, and subsequently to operate around 600 fixtures without any evidence of onward transmission of the virus. He has also been responsible for liaising with Government and Public Health England and has played a prominent leadership role in pan-sport handling of the virus.
The George Ennor Trophy is named in honour of the Horserace Writers & Photographers Association’s longest serving President George Ennor. Previous winners include Sir Peter O’Sullevan, Lester Piggott, Jack Berry, Peter Willett, Richard Pitman and, last year, Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF) Chief Executive Lisa Hancock.
Dr Jerry Hill said:
“I’m utterly humbled to receive this award, which is in truth recognition of the achievements of a wide range of people. Managing the sport’s response to coronavirus has been a truly team effort, and I am just pleased to have played my part in a process that has seen so many people give so much on behalf of the sport.
“I am very fortunate to be able to work with fantastic, dedicated, elite athletes day-in day-out in the form of our jockeys, and while great progress has been made I believe that there is so much more we can do together in the future to improve the lives and lifestyles of these brave individuals.”
Marcus Townend, President of the HWPA, said:
“The George Ennor Trophy is in the gift of the HWPA committee which was unanimous in believing that Dr Jerry Hill was a most appropriate winner in 2020.
“Navigating the sport through the obstacles and challenges thrown up by Covid-19 has presented a tremendous challenge. Jerry has been in the vanguard facing that challenge for the sport. The fact racing has been allowed to operate behind closed doors and is now taking the first steps towards a return to normality with a small number of spectators being allowed back into tracks is in part due to the hard work and long hours put in by him, with assistance from many others across the racing industry.
“The award is also an acknowledgement of the progress that has been made in areas such as jockey safety and physical and mental wellbeing during Jerry’s time at the BHA. He is well respected and liked by the jockeys and they appreciate the work he is doing to help them see themselves as elite athletes and promote lifestyles to suit”.
Paul Struthers, Chief Executive of the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA) said:
“On behalf of our members, we are delighted for Jerry that he’s won this prestigious award. He is very popular with our members and his tireless efforts to get racing back up and running in a safe way whilst protecting the health and safety of the sports participants have been hugely appreciated.
“Despite his constantly busy workload dealing with Covid-19 issues, he always has time to take a call and speak to jockeys about an injury or their health and wellbeing regardless of the time or day of the week. This award is thoroughly deserved.”