Stuart Messenger, Head Lad with Sir Michael Stoute, was today named as Employee of the Year at the sixth annual Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards. Messenger, who has been in the industry for more than 32 years, was presented with The Godolphin Trophy by former Classic-winning Jockey, John Reid, after Manchester United and England star, Michael Owen, was unable to attend due to a hamstring injury sustained in Sunday’s Carling Cup Final.
Victorious in The Derby, St Leger and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe to name but a few, Reid is no stranger to the hard work and dedication that goes on behind the scenes of the racing industry and he himself has been made an MBE for his services to the sport. Also one of the judging panel for the 2010 Awards, Reid presented Messenger with a cheque for £25,000 to accompany the trophy; £15,000 for himself and £10,000 to be shared amongst his colleagues at Sir Michael Stoute’s Newmarket yard.
A specially invited audience of 150 people from within the sporting industry gathered to pay tribute to the leading stud and stable employees in the country, as nominated by their employers and peers. The Awards – the richest of their kind in the world, with £120,000 in prize money – are generously sponsored by Godolphin, and run by the British Horseracing Authority in conjunction with the Racing Post.
Stuart was described as “irreplaceable” by Sir Michael and someone that he “would not want to do the job without”. Starting off with the top trainer when he was still at school he has, over the years, built up an impressive knowledge of racing and to this day, strives to expand this knowledge further. Having learned from some of the best in the industry, Stuart is now a well-respected and trusted teacher and a role model to generations below him.
Messenger commented on the win:
“It is an absolute dream to win an award like this and something that I never expected. I was delighted to have been nominated in the first place and, having seen the calibre of the other nominees, never once thought that I could be in with a chance of winning Employee of the Year. There are so many deserving staff in the industry and I’d like to thank Godolphin for supporting such a worthwhile means of recognising this hard work and dedication.”
Each individual category winner collected £5,000, with their colleagues at their respective stable or stud sharing £5,000 between them. The two runners-up in each category also received £2,000 with their respective yards of employment collecting the same amount. This means that Stuart Messenger walks away £20,000 richer in total, with his yard and colleagues also benefitting to the tune of £15,000.
The full list of winners and runners up are as follows:
DAVID NICHOLSON NEWCOMER AWARD
Winner: James Gray, Second Head Lad at Whitsbury Farm & Stud
Runners Up: Harry Fry, Pupil Assistant Trainer with Paul Nicholls and Sam Davis, Stable Lad with Rae Guest
HIGH ACHIEVER AWARD
Winner: Stuart Messenger, Head Lad with Sir Michael Stoute
Runners Up: Catherine Morse, Stud Groom at Overbury Stud and Timothy Potts, Head Lad with Luca Cumani
STUD STAFF AWARD
Winner: Roy Gedge, Stud Groom / Managed at Hascombe & Valient Stud
Runners Up: David Cartledge, Senior Stallion Man at The Royal Studs and Hazel Woods, Yearling Foreman at Kirtlington Stud
Winner: Elizabeth George, Head Girl with Ed McMahon
Runners Up: Shane Featherstonhaugh, Rider/Groom with Henry Cecil and Brian Groves, Rider/Groom with Sir Michael Stoute
NASS SPECIAL MERIT AWARD
Winner: Ken Bedford, Stable Lad for John Dunlop
Runner Up: Jeremiah Michael Walsh, employed by Paul Webber
DEDICATION TO RACING AWARD
Winner: Jimmy Scott, Travelling Head Lad with Sir Michael Stoute
Runners Up: Clifford Baker, Head Lad with Paul Nicholls and Larry Wargen, Head Yard / Feed Man with Luca Cumani
The Awards were judged by a panel comprising celebrated author and journalist Brough Scott (Chairman); BHA Director, Morag Gray; Miles Littlewort, former Chief Executive of the National Stud; Dinah Nicholson, wife of the late David Nicholson, himself a former Champion Trainer, as well as John reid.
British Horseracing Authority Chief Executive, Nic Coward, said:
“These Awards continue to grow in prestige year on year and are a highly important event in the racing calendar. Today’s Awards have provided us with a moment for the sport to celebrate all the hard working, dedicated and talented people who are an inspiration to all of us and play a fundamental role in making the sport all that it is today.”
“A huge thank you to Godolphin for continuing with their generous sponsorship of the Awards and to the Racing Post for their support. The exceptional standard of entries never ceases to amaze the judges and the decision this year was the hardest yet. Our utmost congratulations go to all of those who were nominated.”