Following a gala evening ceremony celebrating the achievements of stud and stable staff from across the country at the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards, Jessica Fortt, Stud Manager for Dunraven Stud, has been named as Employee of the Year 2015.
Jessica was awarded with the perpetual Godolphin Trophy by presenter Clare Balding and special guest presenter and three-time Champion Flat Jockey Ryan Moore at an event hosted by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), and partnered by the Racing Post. She was also presented with a cheque for the total of a staggering £40,000, of which £20,000 will be shared amongst the staff at the Dunraven Stud in Wales.
Jessica started her career at the Racing School and joined Dunraven Stud 16 years ago, after a bad facial injury ruined a promising apprentice career. She originally helped train pointers before moving on to the breeding operation at Dunraven Stud. Dunraven is a small National Stud based near Bridgend, standing two stallions, Dr Massini and Vinnie Roe.
Jessica carries out all aspects of the work on the stud, including the office administration, stallion handling, foaling throughout the season, breaking in, updating owners and even sends videos to owners of their new foals. Her dedication, hard-work and passion typifies what the racing industry should be proud of in stud and stable staff.
The Awards ceremony took place at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel in London’s Knightsbridge in front of a specially invited audience from across the racing industry to celebrate the vital role of stud and stable staff in the sport.
All 16 finalists, including the winner of the Administration Staff Award, were praised by the judges for their talent, outstanding commitment and contribution to the racing industry.
Brough Scott, Chairman of the Judging Panel, commented:
“This year’s awards have yet again produced a quite outstanding set of finalists and excellent winners. Despite the remarkable credentials of the winners, Jessica was a clear-cut choice for Employee of the Year in the eyes of the Judging Panel.
“Despite not being the typical stud staff breed, at less than five feet tall she shows empathy with each stallion and a natural way of handling them that means her lack of physicality is not an issue. She has been, and still is, involved in all parts of the game, as well as stud life and is also a magnificently refreshing character.”
The winners were decided at a formal judging day held in the morning before the ceremony at the BHA’s London office, where the finalists were interviewed by members of the judging panel.
The full list of winners and runners up are as follows:
Winner: Simon Archer, Groom – Sir Mark Prescott
Runners-up: Steve Nicholson, Full Time Work Rider – Ed Dunlop
Martyn Peake, Rider/Groom – Lady Cecil
STUD STAFF AWARD:
Winner: Jessica Fortt, Stud Manager – Dunraven Stud
Runners-up: Dale Clements, Stud Groom – Cheveley Park
Ron Lott, Stallion Man – Shadwell Stud
Winner: Johnson White, Assistant Trainer – Philip Hobbs
Runners-up: Joanne Fowles, Head Lass – Roger Varian
Kevin Mooney, Assistant Trainer – Charlie Hills
DEDICATION TO RACING AWARD:
Winner: Lesley White, Travelling Head Lass – Mick Channon
Runners-up: Clifford Marsden, Head Man – Luca Cumani
Robynne Watton, Senior Travelling Manager – Mark Johnston
DAVID NICHOLSON NEWCOMER AWARD:
Winner: Tegan Clark, Head Lad – Olly Stevens
Runners-up: Charlotte Clayton, Work Rider/Groom – Rae Guest
Reggie Eggleton, Yard Man/Feed Manager – Seamus Mullins
ADMINISTRATION STAFF AWARD
Winner: Peter Shoemark, Racing Office Manager – John Gosden
Notes to editors:
1. The Awards are generously sponsored by Godolphin and run by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) with support from the Racing Post
2. The winners of the Leadership, Rider Groom, Stud Staff and Dedication to Racing categories will receive a prize of £5,000 with an additional £5,000 also being awarded to the winner’s yard or stud. The two runners-up in these categories will win £2,000 each, with the same amount going to their year or stud.
The winner of the Administration Staff Award will receive £5,000, with the same amount going to their yard or stud.
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.
The Employee of the Year will receive an additional £15,000, with the same amount awarded to their yard or stud.
3. The Judging Panel was: Judith Allen, Sally Aston, Ian Balding, Mark Bradburne, Dale Gibson, Dawn Goodfellow, Matt Mancini, Leanne Masterton, George McGrath, Dinah Nicholson, Brough Scott (Chairman), Peter Scudamore.