WINNERS AND RUNNERS UP
DAVID NICHOLSON NEWCOMER
(For employees who have worked in racing for less than two years)
Lee Oswin – £3000 and £3000 to be shared amongst his colleagues
Employer – Gary Moore, Brighton
14 months in racing
Lee first came to Gary Moore’s stables for a week’s work experience. He lacked confidence and it was assumed he would struggle in the workplace when leaving school. Following that week, he began working weekends and his confidence grew. He improved his fitness and his riding skills.
After a nine-week course he then returned to Moore where he has just completed his NVQ Level 2 in Horsecare and Management. He is a regular work rider, takes good care of his horses and is extremely reliable. Moore says he is one of the most straightforward youngsters he has ever had working for him, a very honest young man.
Lee says: “Sometimes when it is cold and wet it would be nice to laze in bed, but the horses I look after expect me to be there for them. I can’t think of another job I would rather do. I would like to think that one day I might look after a top horse that could win at a meeting like Cheltenham or Ascot.”
Ellie Church – £2000
Employer – Marcus Tregoning, Lambourn
6 months full time in racing
Ellie loved racing from an early age, although her family didn’t have a background with horses. She would sit watching TV on Saturday afternoons, always recognising Godolphin colours and Frankie Dettori, thinking ‘I want to do what he does’. She would spend her school lunch money on the Racing Post and when she left school the Northern Racing College was the only place she wanted to go.
Ellie arrived at Kingwood House Stables in August last year. Aged 17 it was her first full time job in racing and her first time living away from home. She soon came out of her shell and has a wonderful light and cheery attitude, mixing with everyone – not even a language barrier gets in the way.
In a short time there has been a vast improvement in her riding skills; she is keen to learn and absorbs the advice given to her by other team members. She has put theory into practice and become a valuable work rider. Although she doesn’t weigh a great deal she knows how to keep control of her ride. Her stable management has been very good from the outset. Her refreshing personality, coupled with her eagerness to learn and be a part of the team makes her a great person to have working in the yard.
Ellie says: “There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a horse that I have looked after or ridden blossom… I never give any less than my best every day.”
Matthew Hampton – £2000
Employer – Philip Hobbs, Minehead
17 months in racing
The yard wasn’t actively looking to recruit staff but received a call from Rory MacDonald at the British Racing School recommending Matt highly. He had ridden out for a couple of yards before attending the School, so arrived with good riding skills. He has developed these further so he can now ride any horse in the yard. He was very quiet when he arrived, but has grown in confidence and will give very good feedback on what distance, ground and extra tack suit each horse. Matt also volunteers to feed the horses every day at 5.45am, demonstrating his willingness to put in that extra bit of effort to get results.
The yard’s head girl, who used to ride Snap Tie left recently. Snap Tie is considered virtually impossible to stay on board when he’s fresh. Matt took over and has bonded well with the horse, whose character and performance has improved since Matt’s ridden him.
Matt says: “I don’t believe in second best, that is why I chose a top yard and trainer as a starting point. I have many goals to achieve in racing; my first will be to point-to-point this season. My ultimate goal would be to have a successful career as a jockey whilst being attached to a yard.”
STUD STAFF CATEGORY
(For those working specifically in the breeding industry)
Paul Baker – £3000 and £3000 to be shared amongst his colleagues
Employer – Kevin and Susan Mercer, Usk Valley Stud, Abergavenny
10 years in Racing
Paul started working for the Usk Valley Stud ten years ago. A qualified tree surgeon, his wife Emma was Stud Groom and Paul joined to run the land management side of the Stud, with Emma concentrating on their young family. He is completely up-to-date with the latest and best equine welfare techniques. Equine husbandry is a true vocation for Paul.
Paul is responsible for all the day-to-day management of 21 mares and followers, two retired mares and a teaser. He is present at every foal’s birth, and delivered 17 foals last year. He works with the foals, handling, disciplining and encouraging good behaviour; he prepares yearlings for the sales and the Stud has been continually praised for the quality of its preparation. Paul found working on a staff training morning with an equine behaviourist a turning point, which provided a real insight and improved all staff’s confidence during the sales preparation season.
He manages a team of five staff and is rigorous in his internal staff training and development. He is responsible for the upkeep of 140 acres of stud paddocks and the related work that entails. He is very alert to the environmental issues associated with farming and has planted over 2000 trees on the Stud. He also identifies the nest each year of 2 breeding pairs of curlews and fences off land to provide them with a safe haven.
He works very closely with the Stud’s vets and organises Bristol Equine University students to visit the Stud for practical demonstrations. He promotes best-practice within the industry, finding placement and experience opportunities for students, who have a fantastic role model to emulate.
Kevin Mercer says: “The future of the British breeding industry is in safe hands with a character like Paul.”
Roisin Close – £2000
Employer – David Redvers, Tweenhills Stud, Hartpury
14 years in Racing
Roisin joined Tweenhills as Stallion Person after David had been impressed by her showing ability and confidence at the sales whilst working for Lanwades Stud. Within a year of joining, Tweenhills’ stud groom left. None of the applicants answering the advert matched Roisin so, at 25, she was given the chance, although David thought she might be out of her depth. However, through sheer hard work and dedication she made the role her own and has held it ever since.
Roisin is responsible for the day-to-day management of the entire Tweenhills operation. There are now five stallions standing, Corsend Farm now houses the foaling unit and three other properties are rented in the area; Roisin oversees all of these. There is a minimum horse head count of 85 at any one time. Roisin eats, sleeps and breathes her job. She is a tremendous role model for young ambitious stud staff. She finds it exciting being able to teach someone something new or to encourage someone to try something they thought they good not do – their accomplishment is her reward.
Roisin says it is hard to pick just one part of the breeding season as the most rewarding as there are so many different aspects – from watching a new-born foal in the paddock for the first time to the foetal heartbeat in a 25-day scan.
She is the complete opposite of a clock-watcher; she has a tremendous eye for spotting a problem before it turns into a disaster. She makes dedication to her chosen field look bordering on obsession.
Deborah Dodd – £2000
Employer – Mark Massarella, Louella Stud, Hugglescote
9 years in Racing
Deborah started work at the Stud after the youngest of her four daughters started school. She and her husband (the Stud Manager) take charge of all the foaling at Louella Stud, around 40 mares a year. Deborah also does much of the paperwork in the office, mucks out, feeds the stallions and mares, catches in and scribes for the vet. Deborah is quick to spot a foal which is under the weather and get it treated as soon as possible.
Last year, when a mare with colic didn’t pull through an operation, she had a five-week-old foal at foot. A foster mother couldn’t be found so Deborah hand-reared the foal, getting up to feed it every 3 hours in the first few weeks. She postponed her holiday until the foal had been weaned. She nursed it through a virus, medicating it three times a day. Deborah then came back from her holiday early to say goodbye to the foal and ensure it was loaded safely on its journey back to its owner. However, it knew it was still a horse, not a human, as Deborah knows this can be the downfall of orphan foals.
Deborah enjoys every part of the breeding season but finds the most rewarding is foaling time, particularly when mares return who have been to the Stud before. She says there is nothing better than when you have been down to the stables to foal in the early hours of the foaling, witnessing the first look between mare and foal.
(For general staff, yard men and work riders)
Claire Knight – £3000 and £3000 to be shared amongst her colleagues
Employer – Jeremy Noseda, Newmarket
23 years in racing
Claire is very sympathetic in the saddle – horses appreciate the care and attention they receive from her when she rides them. She is also a good communicator, able to convey the health and overall well-being of anything she rides. Such feedback is vital for any trainer. Fellow staff know they can call on her for assistance professionally or personally. People such as Claire are the bedrock of any yard’s success. Even on her days off Claire comes in to check on her horses.
Claire’s father was the local bobby in Epsom and kept an eye on the racing yards at night, so she was around horses from a very young age. Claire originally worked with show horses, competing at national level in the hack’s class. Her first job in racing, with the late Brian Swift, was character building as she was the only girl there. Claire says: “It’s been my life and got me back outside when I suffered uncontrollable panic attacks which put me in hospital. I missed my horses so much I knew I had to get better.”
Claire left racing for a while following the tragic death of a horse she adored. Absent Relative was hit by a car while Claire was riding her on the road, and died with Claire cradling the horse’s head. She has now been working in Newmarket, first for Michael Jarvis and now for Jeremy Noseda, for the last four years. She looks after some excellent horses including Arabian Gleam who won the Park Stakes for the 2nd year in a row.
Hugh Fraser – £2000
Employer – John Berry, Newmarket
10 years in racing
Trainer John Berry says Hugh is blessed with a naturally calm and patient temperament – he is someone who one can put on an awkward horse, confident that the horse will benefit from sympathetic handling. His enjoyment of the job filters through to the horses and they enjoy their work too. In a small stable, someone like Hugh is worth his weight in gold. His younger colleague’s work has improved hugely as a result of working alongside him.
Hugh says: “It has been wonderful to have helped someone else realise their dreams – my 18 year old work colleague now has her apprentice licence and isn’t too far off getting her first ride – it is good to be able to offer advice and support.”
“I find it rewarding playing a part in a young horse’s education – it is a wonderful feeling to know that you were the person responsible for breaking it in. It is also lovely when you are able to watch as their progeny start to come through the ranks. I love being able to spot little traits in a horse that, say, its dam may have portrayed years before.”
Hugh has been particularly proud of Brief Goodbye and Kadouchski in 2008: “They’re not world beaters and their success will have passed unnoticed by most people, but I consider being able to play a part in bringing out the best in them the biggest achievement for me in 2008.”
Mick Wilson – £2000
Employer – William Haggas, Newmarket
30 years in racing
Mick has worked for William Haggas for 21 years. He is an excellent rider, an extremely good judge of a horse’s ability and well-being and he is an integral part of the team.
His favourite horse was Conquest. After showing ability at home, but failing to capitalise on this on the track, Haggas questioned his genuineness but Mick was convinced that, ridden in the right way, he would come good. He was put in blinkers and won the Gimcrack at York, but his three-year-old career was a mess. Mick maintained that once the key to the horse was found, he would come good again and did not need the headgear. In 2008 Conquest won the Stewards Cup and followed up this with a Group Three victory. He was subsequently sold for an excellent price at the sales. Mick kept faith with the horse where others didn’t; he nurtured Conquest and believed in him.
Mick’s greatest attribute is his honesty. If he’s not happy with something, he will always approach the trainer, not making a song and dance of it, but in a quiet and understated way making his point, which William respects and appreciates enormously. William feels Mick is an excellent example of what this Award is about.
SENIOR STAFF CATEGORY
(For senior yard and travelling staff, and office administrators such as yard secretaries)
Peter Maughan – £3000 and £3000 to be shared amongst his colleagues
Employer – David Elsworth, Newmarket
56 years in Racing
Peter is one of the old school legends. In his time he has travelled some of the greats – Desert Orchid, Persian Punch, In The Groove and Barnbrook Again.
Now 71, Peter broke his pelvis in a riding accident last year, but after a very short recovery period he was back at work and riding out. He started 2008 off in Dubai, looking after Gower Song, winner of the Group 3 City of Gold Stakes. Peter’s knowledge and experience in looking after and overseeing her daily exercise was a large part of her success. Peter has a great ability to settle and relax horses – he knows that for young horses, it’s often a strange environment for them but if they’re relaxed they can have a good experience and hopefully want to run again.
Staff sometimes feel Peter can be quite tough on them but he will leave nothing untouched, but the advice and help he gives is greatly received by them all. Peter says these staff are the future of racing and it is important that standards be maintained. He shows them exactly how to do every job properly to the smallest detail, and ensures that every horse is turned out to perfection, something which was installed in him when he was learning.
His total dedication to his job and horses has never faltered for over half a century
Albert ‘Corky’ Browne – £2000
Employer – Nicky Henderson, Lambourn
51 years in Racing
‘Corky’ Browne is the exemplary member of Nicky Henderson’s staff and he owes his success as a trainer to him. Corky is there almost 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They started together in 1978 with a handful of horses and now train over 100. Corky underwent major knee surgery last year, but continues in his post as ever. All the owners love to talk to him, and as such he’s a great ambassador to the yard.
His superior knowledge and ability to identify and repair all injuries has been outstanding. The vets would agree he is seldom wrong. His attention to detail on everything to do with the well-being of horses is second to none. The horses’ welfare comes first with him, whatever the time of day or night. He has an extraordinary rapport with each horse and very quickly assesses their ability needs and/or quirks. He nursed three horses in particular back to health and success last year – Clay Hollister, Market Man and Petit Robin.
He is a marvellous leader of staff, encouraging, teaching and keeping them in order. He assesses their ability, strengths and weaknesses very quickly. Assistant trainers such as Ed and Harry Dunlop and Charlie Longsdon have gone on to success and all would concede that they owe him a huge debt for his help. Training of staff is a close second to the health, happiness and success of the many horses under his care and supervision – it also goes without saying that the wellbeing of his Guv’nor is of paramount importance!
He inspires all around him with the pleasure he gains from the stable’s winners; he is also sensible, constructive and confident when things go wrong and always sees light at the end of the tunnel which is encouraging for the team.
Jim Hiner – £2000
Employer – Michael Jarvis, Newmarket
38 Years in Racing
In 1976, when Michael Jarvis branched out on his own as an independent trainer, Jim went with him and has been his secretary ever since. He is an integral part of the team at Kremlin House Stables, has great relations with clients and a strong bond with the team of staff. He is the ‘cogs’ of the organisation – with Jim there, the complicated become uncomplicated. The team only realise what a good job he does when he has a rare day off, when apparently it’s pandemonium!
He has an incredible inbuilt calendar, aware of all dates and deadlines not only for racing but for vaccinations, other matters pertaining to the horses, arrangements for transport, horses’ passports, lads’ expenses and identity cards etc. He also manages control and ordering of hay, shavings, fodder and food supplements and general organisation of tradesmen.
Jim deals with new staff, gets to know them and is very approachable. Staff have no qualms about going to Jim if they have any admin, financial or personal problems. He gives advice and encouragement as necessary, but also warnings if and when required. He tried to ease foreign workers into our English way of life, by helping with any paperwork on immigration status, National Insurance or banking.
When interviewed about his own success, Jarvis attributes much credit to Jim and his key role. He can be completely confident to leave the running of the office to Jim, so he can concentrate on training the horses.
(For those who have shown bravery, courage or outstanding achievement in the course of their work)
Andy Gibson – £3000 and £3000 to be shared amongst his colleagues
Employer – Stuart Williams, Newmarket
25 years in racing
Andy remembers having his first ride at Doncaster on Guy Fawkes Day in 1977, where he came 5th of 26 runners. Apprentices then borrowed other people’s clothing – he rode wearing Pat Eddery’s boots!
Born a Geordie, he has worked in racing all his life, currently as Yardman which is a very physically demanding job. So it’s all the more appropriate that Andy’s work is recognised, as he has had Multiple Sclerosis for the past 10 years. He continues to work, asking for no special treatment, and never takes a day off sick, which in the winter is rare even for an able-bodied person.
Last year he attended an afternoon’s hospital appointment, to be told that the disease had gone to the secondary stage. In true Andy style, he was back in work the very next day. After this diagnosis, he agreed to undertake pioneering drug research at Addenbrooks Hospital in Cambridge. He plays a key role in the Multiple Sclerosis Society, attending fundraising events. Penelope McCalmont of the Newmarket & District Brand of the MS Society says that Andy’s perseverance is a lesson to us all; he never complains and always has a smile for everyone.
So long as he’s around his beloved horses, Andy says every day is a bonus for him.
Sally Davies – £2000
Employer – Simon Dow, Epsom
20 years in Racing
Simon Dow says Sally embodies the title of Special Merit/Hero. She had a share in a horse in his yard. One day she offered to cook breakfast and she has been doing this, and everything else, for 20 years. She caters each year for over 500 people over Derby weekend, takes people to and from the gallops, takes care of injured or problematical horses and attends to injuries – human, equine or canine She is always there for everyone and people like Sally are the backbone of this industry and exactly the kind of person who would never receive the public accolade that she deserves if it weren’t for this award scheme.
This year Sally also started looking after the lads’ house for the Epsom Training & Development Fund, where the lads can talk to her and ask for advice. She has also taken on the role of yard photographer with her photos being used in brochures, on websites and on Simon’s Christmas card.
Sally is always wonderfully reliable but never more so than when there is a crisis. Her unflappable and sensible approach ensures that difficult situations become manageable, and always with such a sense of responsibility and pride in what she does.
Sally is very proud of the horses she has ridden and prepared for their races – Itsagame, winning at Glorious Goodwood under Lester Piggott; Chief’s Song who won five races at Kempton in successive years and then won the race in his name at that course and Confronter, a multiple winner at home and in France.
Ian Willows – £2000
Employer – Luca Cumani, Newmarket
47 years in racing
Ian has amazingly worked for 30 of his 47 years in racing in Luca Cumani’s yard, where he was Luca’s first employee. Luca says he has worked with such dedication, loyalty and enthusiasm.
Travelling with horses should not be underestimated; once they leave the yard it is all down to the travelling head lad. Ian (or ‘Gonzo’) has travelled to Europe, the States, Hong Kong, Australia, Dubai and the Far East with his charges. He has to judge the local ground, chose the right vet, ensure the blacksmith is doing the right thing, and take care of a myriad of needs. Ian has been rewarded with some major winners such as Barathea, winning the Breeders’ Cup mile at Churchill Downs, or Falbrav – never anybody’s best friend but the epitome of a thoroughbred: tough; sound; consistent; handsome and of course very talented.
Ian is a mentor and inspiration to young members of staff. He finds it rewarding to see apprentices at Bedford House go on to find success as jockeys – jockeys such as Frankie Dettori, Jimmy Fortune and Royston Ffrench.
Travelling is not without its dangers and in 2004, when driving 2 horses back from Italy, Ian was involved in a horrible accident on the motorway, when one horse was killed. He was lucky to survive but handled the whole situation in his sensible, calm manner.
Luca greatly attributes Bedford House’s international success to Ian’s fantastic organisational skills and ensuring horses travel well and arrive in the best possible physical condition. With Ian shortly to retire, Luca says the place won’t be the same without him.
STABLE AND STABLE STAFF EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR 2009
Peter Maughan – £12,500 plus £12,500 to be shared amongst his stable colleagues (in addition to prize money for winning his category)