James Frank of Hascombe and Valiant Stud crowned employee of the year at 2020 Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards

24 Feb 2020 BHA Features Welfare

Following an inspiring evening celebrating the achievements of stud and stable staff from across the country at the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards, James Frank of Hascombe and Valiant Stud has been named as the 2020 Employee of the Year.

James, who also won the Stud Staff Award, was presented with with the perpetual Godolphin Trophy by special guest presenter Oisin Murphy alongside Ed Chamberlin at an event hosted by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA).

He takes home a total of £20,000 in prize money with the same amount being shared amongst the staff at Hascombe and Valiant Stud. This is part of a total of £128,000 in prize money awarded on the evening by sponsors Godolphin.

Having come to the UK from Zimbabwe in his mid-twenties, James’ belief in leading from the front and setting the example to those he works with has been the hallmark of his 17 years of working in racing and breeding.

Most recently at Hascombe and Valiant Stud, his unswerving commitment to the mares and their foals and his skill with highly strung animals has seen him involved in the early stages of some of the modern greats of Flat racing, including Golden Horn and Cracksman.

James is meticulous in his organisation and forward planning and is held in universally high regard by his colleagues. He helps and encourages others to ensure that his own high standards are replicated across the stud and his love of horses and dedication to his work are an inspiration.

Brough Scott, Chair of the Judging Panel, said:

“The panel’s job was as tough as ever this year with some remarkable stories of commitment, hard work and dedication amongst this year’s finalists.

“However, we had to reach a final decision and James is a hugely deserving winner for his years of perseverance and outstanding service to the breeding industry.”

Nick Rust, Chief Executive of the BHA, said:

“For James to be named Employee of the Year when our sport employs thousands of people who work so hard to provide first class care to our horses is a fantastic achievement.

“We are grateful to all of the staff who work behind the scenes to ensure that the horses who are bred for and take part in British racing are provided with exceptionally high levels of care.

“These awards are our opportunity to say thank you to all of them, on behalf of the sport and on behalf of our horses, and tonight’s winners and finalists are fine ambassadors for their profession.”

The Awards ceremony took place at The Underglobe on London’s South Bank in front of a specially invited audience from across the racing industry to celebrate the vital role of stud and stable staff in the racing industry and the care which they provide to the horses they look after.

The other category winners on the night were: Kevin Skelton of Bryan Smart Racing who took the David Nicholson newcomer award; Kim Bailey Racing’s Mat Nicholls  who landed the Leadership Award; Hayley Ashcroft from Tom Dascombe’s Manor House Stables who was successful in the Rider/Groom category and Andy Stringer, whose years of service in racing most recently with John Gosden earned him the Dedication award.

Also honoured was Simone Sear who landed the Rory MacDonald award for her work at Racing Welfare.

The full list of winners and runners up are as follows:

Employee of the Year: James Frank – Hascombe and Valiant Stud

David Nicholson Newcomer Award: Kevin Skelton – Bryan Smart
Runners up: Charlotte Cotgrave – Mark Johnston, Bradley Harris – Andrew Balding

Leadership Award: Mat Nicholls – Kim Bailey
Runners up: Leanne Kershaw – Jedd O’Keeffe, James Savage – Michael Stoute

Rider/Groom Award: Hayley Ashcroft – Tom Dascombe
Runners up: Shoab Patel – Stuart Williams, Kate McCormack – Paul Nicholls

Stud Staff Award: James Frank – Hascombe and Valiant Stud
Runners up: Patrick Meehan – The National Stud, Keith Warburton – Shade Oak Stud

Dedication to Racing Award: Andy Stringer – John Gosden
Runners up: Seanie Mulcaire – Philip Hobbs, Philip Wright – Harry Dunlop

Rory Macdonald Award: Simone Sear – Racing Welfare
Runners up: Eleanor Boden – Scottish Racing, Rachel (Chicky) Oaksey – Injured Jockeys Fund

Brough Scott honoured as he steps down as Chair
The 2020 Awards also saw the final act for Brough Scott as Chair of the Judging Panel, a position he has held for over 15 years. He was presented with a memento and thanked for his years of service by the 2019 Employee of the Year Catriona Bissett. He will be replaced as Chair by broadcaster Nick Luck.

Brough Scott said:

“It has been a great honour to be involved with these fantastic awards for such a long period.

“Some of the people you hear from as part of the judging team leave you in little doubt that there are some extraordinary people working in racing and breeding.

“I’m sure they will continue to go from strength to strength and celebrate those who do so much away from the limelight to keep our great sport on the road.”

Hugh Anderson, Managing Director of Godolphin UK, said:

“Brough has played a huge role in the development of these awards from their very early days right up to this year and has been a wise and measured guiding hand over the judging panel and process as a whole for nearly a quarter of a century.

“We owe him a considerable debt of gratitude for all the time and effort he as put in and he steps down as Chair with our warm thanks and best wishes.”

Nick Luck said:

“Stepping into Brough’s shoes will not be an easy task but I’m thrilled to be taking over as Chair and am looking forward to working with the wider Panel to celebrate the inspiring work done by stud and stable staff throughout the country.”

Notes to editors:
1. The Judging Panel for the 2020 Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards is: Brough Scott (Chair), Sally Aston, Catriona Bissett, Mark Bradburne, Captain Guy Disney, Mick Fitzgerald, Dawn Goodfellow, Nick Luck, George McGrath, Ollie McPhail, Dinah Nicholson and Hazel Peplinski.

2. The categories are: Leadership Award, Dedication Award, Rider/Groom Award, Stud Staff, Rory MacDonald Award and David Nicholson Newcomer Award (n.b. the David Nicholson Newcomer Award is for people who entered racing within the last three years).

2. The ‘Rory MacDonald Award’ recognises any individual connected directly or indirectly within horseracing, including auxiliary and administrative staff who has made an outstanding contribution to either the racehorses or to the lives of those working within the industry, or on racing’s behalf, in local communities showcasing the social responsibility of our sport, for either equine, humans or both.

3. The winner of each of the Leadership, Dedication, Rider/Groom and Stud Staff categories will receive a prize of £5,000 with an additional £5,000 also being awarded to the winner’s yard or stud. Two runners-up in each of these categories will win £2,000 each, with the same amount going to their yard or stud.

4. The winner of the Rory MacDonald Award will receive £5,000, with the same going to a charity of their choice. The two runners-up will receive £2,000, with the same going to a charity of their choice.

5. The winner of the David Nicholson Newcomer Award will receive £2,000, with the same amount going to their yard or stud, while two runners-up will receive £1,000 each, with the same amount for their yard or stud. There is an additional prize for the winner of the David Nicholson Newcomer Award, which includes return flights, a five-day educational tour of Dubai together with five nights’ accommodation in a five-star hotel.

6. The Awards will also recognise an Employee of the Year, who will be selected from the winners of the Leadership, Rider/Groom, Stud Staff and Dedication awards. That winner will receive an additional prize of £15,000, with the same amount going to their yard or stud.