Liz Welsh, rider and groom at Philip Hobbs’ Minehead yard, today collected the top prize at the Stable Staff of the Year Awards in London. Guest of honour Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal presented Welsh with her Award, as well as a cheque for £10,000. Her colleagues at the stable will also share the same amount between them.
A specially-invited audience of over 140 gathered to recognise the leading stable and stud employees in the country at the second annual Awards ceremony. The Awards remain the richest of their kind, with prizes of £50,000, and are sponsored by Godolphin and organised by the British Horseracing Board in association with the Racing Post.
As well as being named Stable Employee of the Year, Welsh also won the Rider/Groom Award. Having spent the whole of her 15-year racing career in racing with Philip Hobbs, she has expanded her skills, completing a massage course with equine physiotherapist Mary Bromiley, and is qualified to work on the horses in the yard.
Baroness Mallalieu, a BHB Director and Chair of the Stable and Stud Staff Steering Group, introduced the Awards, at which a special tribute was also given to Joseph Coates, who before his sudden death in December 2005 at the age of nineteen had been an integral member of Martin Pipe’s Pond House Stables, and had the responsibility of looking after Well Chief. Joseph was to have been the Pipe yard’s only nomination for the 2006 Stable Staff of the Year Awards, and his parents accepted a special award in his memory.
Each of the five Award category winners received £2,500, with their colleagues at their respective stable or stud to benefit from £1,000:
Newcomer – Morgan Ely – Trainee Groom with Seamus Mullins
Stud Staff – Stephen Wright – Stud Groom at Conduit Farm Stud
Rider/Groom – Liz Welsh – Rider/Groom with Philip Hobbs
Senior Staff – Iain Williams – Travelling Head Lad for Mark Tompkins
Special Merit/Hero – Stephen Knight – Overall Head Lad with Richard Hannon
The two runners-up in each category also received £1,000.
The Awards were judged by a panel comprising Racing Post Editorial Director Brough Scott (Chairman); John Francome, Channel 4 Racing broadcaster; Stephen Hadley, Showjumper; Gill Greeves, Executive Director of the British Horseracing Education and Standards Trust; David Nicholson, BHB Bloodstock Representative; and Chicky Oaksey, Senior Almoner of the Injured Jockeys Fund.
BHB Chief Executive Greg Nichols said: “These Awards are designed to recognise some of the real heroes of British Racing, and demonstrate that stable and stud staff are the lifeblood of our sport. The dedication and commitment shown to their work marked out all the shortlisted nominees as inspirational individuals.”