DAVID NICHOLSON NEWCOMER AWARD
(For employees who have worked in racing for less than five years)
James Gray – £5,000 and £5,000 to be shared amongst his colleagues
Employer – Whitsbury Farm and Stud Ltd
Position – Second Head Man
After watching the unforgettable clash of Fantastic Light and Galileo in the 2001 Irish Champion Stakes, James embarked on his racing career by applying for the National Stud Apprenticeship. He then spent a season at Whitsbury Manor Stud where he proved himself to be an extremely hard worker and a valuable member of the team and was subsequently offered a permanent position at the stud.
James’s ambition, coupled with his infatuation with breeding and the racing industry inspired James to spend a season at one of the leading studs in South Africa, Klawvlei, where he assisted in the foaling of 126 mares. On his return from South Africa in February 2009, James was promoted to Second Person, where he is now responsible for organising and motivating up to 10 staff, often under pressure. James is not afraid of hard work and is always prepared to go that extra mile.
He says: “I hope that because I started at the bottom and am trying to work my way up that I have viewed stud work from every angle. I would love to be able to fill every member of staff with a passion like the one I felt when I first stepped onto Whitsbury Manor Stud.”
Harry Fry – £2,000 and £2,000 to be shared amongst his colleagues
Employer – Paul Nicholls
Position – Pupil Assistant Trainer
Harry’s earliest racing memory was watching Master Oats winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1995 and from that moment on he caught the ‘racing bug.’
Having been a Point-to-Point Jockey and winning races, it became pretty clear that Harry was to outgrow his career as a jockey when reaching 6ft 3in, and so he turned his focus of attention toward the training of horses.
Harry joined Paul Nicholls’ yard four years ago and since then, his appetite to learn, his drive and his ambitious nature have been unmistakable to all around him. Harry is regularly trusted with many of the most important responsibilities in the yard and is often in charge of taking horses to Ireland, looking after owners and dealing with veterinary and staffing issues.
Nothing is too much for Harry and his dedication to racing and to the yard is clear. The praise and advice he offers to the younger staff is always respected and welcomed.
Harry says: “I want to be able to reach the end of my career knowing that I have put as much effort as I possibly can into everything I have set out on, whilst being able to take great pride in what I have achieved.”
Sam Davis – £2,000 and £2,000 to be shared amongst his colleagues
Employer – Rae Guest, Newmarket
Position – Stable Lad
Sam’s interest in horses and racing sparked from the young age of six when he became an avid follower of racing, studying horses and their progress. In August 2006, he embarked on his first steps towards a career in racing, enrolling on the nine week course at the British Racing School.
After finishing the Newmarket course and having undertaken previous work experience with him, Sam was them offered a permanent position with Trainer Rae Guest. A reliable, valued and committed member of the yard, Sam’s incredible thirst for increasing his understanding and experience in all aspects of racing was obvious to not only his employer, but the rest of the yard.
Constantly seeking experience, whether within Stable Management or Work Riding, Sam’s ambition is to become a Conditional Jockey and he dreams of riding at Cheltenham or Aintree.
Sam says: “I understand the hard work and commitment that is required but I am more than happy to do this in order to fulfil my potential in my career.”
HIGH ACHIEVER AWARD
(For those who have strived to progress their career within in the industry and manage at least two members of staff)
Stuart Messenger – £5,000 and £5,000 to be shared amongst his colleagues
Employer – Sir Michael Stoute
Position – Head Lad
Stuart has been in the industry for 32 years and Sir Michael Stoute describes him as ‘irreplaceable’ and someone that he would not want to do his job without.
Stuart started off in Sir Michael’s yard when he was still at school and over the years, has built up an impressive knowledge of racing while constantly striving to expand on this and learn more.
Not many people can be described as a true horseman, however Stuart is one of these few; he has a natural understanding of horses and therefore responds to their individual needs. One area where this true skill shines through is in the stalls. His patience is limitless and he can often be found in the evening by the practice stalls, helping to calm the nerves of an anxious horse.
One of the highlights in Stuart’s racing career was Singspiel winning the Japan Cup in 1996. When the horse got a temperature on the way to the Japan, Stuart was out on the next plane to oversee the horse’s recuperation. The horse then went on to win the race, Stuart having played a vital role in the recovery of the horse and therefore, his subsequent victory.
Stuart has learnt from some very influential characters in the industry and he is now a well respected and trusted teacher and role model to generations below him.
Timothy Potts – £2,000 and £2,000 to be shared amongst his colleagues
Employer – Luca Cumani
Position – Head Lad
Timothy has been described as reliable, enthusiastic, conscientious and an essential member of the Bedford House management team. He has built up a wealth of knowledge over the years, yet still always strives to expand his knowledge further.
He first rode out for his father at the age of 12 and went on to ride over the flat and then also over jumps. After sustaining a back injury, he changed track and went to work as a Yearling Manager at Sidehill Stud where he remained eight years, breaking and pre-training horses, before going to work for James Given as Assistant Head Man.
The next stage in his career took him to Luca Cumani’s, where he has been for four and a half years. Timothy is a fantastic role model for the younger members of staff and is very approachable. He is always ready to listen to the problems of other members of staff and provides them with advice and help, on any topic. He feels very strongly about attracting and keeping young people to racing as he feels they are essential for the industry and so he does whatever he can to help and advise.
Timothy says: “While you have to be incredibly dedicated within the role and are in a position of responsibility, for me the best thing about working here and working with so many different people is getting the very best out of them – for me that has to be the most rewarding part of my job.”
Catherine Morse – £2,000 and £2,000 to be shared amongst her colleagues
Employer – Overbury Stud
Position – Stud Groom
Catherine has proved herself to be an extremely capable, hard working and determined individual and as a result, was promoted to Stud Groom at Overbury Stud at the relatively young age of 26, making her one of the youngest at that level of responsibility in the industry.
Catherine studied for a degree in Equine Science at Hartpury College and, having started at Overbury as a casual Stud Hand for the 2006 season, Catherine was then offered a permanent position in 2007. Her knowledge and capability shone through very quickly and in June 2008, she was impressively promoted to Stud Groom. Despite her anticipation at first, she has run the yards extremely competently and has always been a reliable and much respected member of the management team.
Catherine has an insatiable thirst to learn more, and is also an extremely effective manager of people. She is responsible for a wide range of employees, varying hugely in age and experience, but with her approachable manner and her focus on ensuring that staff are continually encouraged to stretch themselves, she has developed a management style to suit everyone.
(For general staff, Yard Men and Work Riders)
Elizabeth George – £5,000 and £5,000 to be shared amongst her colleagues
Employer – Ed McMahon
Position – Head Girl
From an early age, Liz was exposed to horses of all shapes and sizes as much of her childhood was spent riding and competing with her father. She started to ride for Brian McMahon and her previous experience gave her the ability to ride almost any racehorse and to be able to judge their pace and aptitude. For many in racing, handling difficult horses is not a popular part of the job but Liz takes it in a stride and relishes the challenge.
She worked for Brian McMahon for 4 years and then moved on to work for his son, Ed, where she works now as Head Girl. Liz has always been an extremely modest person who would prefer to stay in the yard rather than take the horses she has prepared to the racecourse, however high profile the race.
Liz shows total dedication to every horse, especial the sick ones, and she is sensitive to the individual requirements of each and every one. Many come to the yard and put in the minimum however, Liz could not be more different and has to be told to go home, otherwise she would remain in the yard all night!
A dedicated leader, as well as an excellent role model, to the staff in the yard, Liz is always willing to help them with however big or small a task, whether that is giving them advice on a yard issue or sorting out their car insurance!
According to her boss, Liz is a rare jewel.
Shane Fetherstonhaugh – £2,000 and £2,000 to be shared in amongst his colleagues
Employer – Henry Cecil
Shane has been involved in the industry for 20 years, 4 of which have been spent with Henry Cecil.
Shane is a great horseman, renowned for his kind and patient nature, and has a real empathy for horses; they trust him. He has a thorough understanding of how horses work and can detect the smallest changes in their well-being. Shane is always prepared to go that extra mile. He is always one of the first in to work and one of the last to leave and will frequently come in after hours, to check on his horses or to change rugs. He is totally reliable and has an essential role in the smooth running of the yard.
During his racing career Shane has been associated with some fantastic horses and was proud to have been the regular rider of the magnificent Motivator. 2009 has provided him with some personal highlights that he will not forget in a hurry, including the privilege of looking after Warren Place’s first equine millionaire, Midday. He has a special rapport with this horse and the trust that Henry Cecil has in Shane and his riding is demonstrated by the fact that he rode her in virtually every piece of work in 2009.
Shane’s proudest moment of 2009 was watching Midday cantering back after winning the Breeders’ Cup and is a moment that he will never forget.
Brian Groves – £2,000 and £2,000 to be shared amongst his colleagues
Employer – Sir Michael Stoute
Brian has been described as a ‘pro’s pro’ whose passion for horses and riding reflects onto others around the yard. His incredibly infectious positive manner has helped to keep spirits high at Freemason Lodge and he is an extremely reliable and admired member of the team, always offering to take on extra responsibilities.
Brian did not start off his working life within the racing industry and he was in fact a Ledger Clerk in London! Having spent most of his wages on riding at the weekends, he decided to go to Newmarket in 1964 to serve an Apprenticeship. He was very keen to do whatever it would take, even though that included a wage cut from £15 a week to 50p plus keep!
He has spent over twenty years with Sir Michael Stoute and has had the privilege to be involved with some incredible horses, Pilsudski, Russian Rhythm and In Command to name just a few. Daliapour was a horse that was particularly close to Brian’s heart – not the easiest of horses, but Brian learnt to understand him and made a lasting impression on the horse.
Brian is a perfect gentleman and his presence will be greatly missed when he retires next year.
STUD STAFF AWARD
(For those working specifically in the breeding industry)
Roy Gedge – £5,000 and £5,000 to be shared amongst his colleagues
Employer – Hascombe and Valiant Studs
Position: Stud Groom/Manager
Roy’s attitude, temperament and willingness to help and listen are exceptional. Over the 44 years he has spent with Hascombe and Valiant Studs, Roy has built up an extremely impressive knowledge of the industry and any students who come to work for the studs will experience his willingness to impart this specialist knowledge. He started initially as a Stud Hand however, in the last few years, he has taken on more of a managerial role.
All the staff at the studs have the utmost respect for Roy. He is not afraid of hard work and they know that anything he asks them to do he would be quite happy to do himself. His dedication to his job has often meant that his personal life has had to take a back seat, as his priority has always been the horses on the stud and their welfare. Roy is always the first to offer help and he has spent numerous nights nursing mares and foals and mares with colic through the night.
His most proud moment at the stud was a night in 2009 when one of the mares, Rebecca Sharp, that had been barren on and off for many years, finally gave birth to a foal by Dansili. He says that “the sense of pride in the foaling unit that night was fantastic.”
David Cartledge– £2,000 and £2,000 to be shared amongst his colleagues
Employer – The Royal Studs
Position – Senior Stallion Man
David has worked for The Royal Studs for more than 38 years and for the majority of the last 26, he has been a Stallion Man. He will always do everything he can for the horses in his care and is extremely dedicated to their individual requirements. The horses, stables and paddocks are always maintained to perfection and he sets an exceptionally high standard in every aspect of his work and is an example to everyone on the stud.
He is extremely flexible and can always be relied on to complete duties beyond his own areas of responsibility, such as assisting the Stud Groom with foaling mares.
David has progressed from a Stud Hand to his current position as Senior Stallion Man at The Royal Studs, where he has been responsible for looking after Royal Applause and Motivator since 2006. In 2009, Royal Applause had a superb year with over £3,000,000 in prize money.
Joe Grimwade from The Royal Studs says: “It is very hard to find staff with the levels of skill, commitment and flexibility, combined with the excellent work ethic which David provides. He is, without a doubt, a key and valued member of our team.”
Hazel Woods – £2,000 and £2,000 to be shared amongst her colleagues
Employer – Kirtlington Studs
Position – Yearling Foreman
Horses have always played an important part in Hazel’s life. At 7 years old she began riding and she then started showing ponies at 10. Hazel studied Equine Science at Oxford Brookes University and during breaks from studying for her degree, she played polo and worked part time as a Veterinary Nurse. On graduating she went to work for Witney College Stud for a year and then spent two and a half years at Templeton Stud, before moving on to join Kirtlington Stud in 2005.
Hazel has been a key member of the Kirtlington team since her arrival. She has shown considerable determination, honesty and loyalty, and has an excellent work ethic. Her job as Yearling Foreman often presents her with challenges as she constantly deals with difficult youngsters. However, her calm, patient approach and her willingness to get to know each animal individually enables her to carry out her job extremely effectively.
One of the achievements that Hazel is most proud of was in November 2009 when she managed to break in a particularly difficult filly that was refusing to respond to conventional approaches. Through much perseverance and using her initiative Hazel managed to break the horse in using her own method, which proved to be very effective.
NASS SPECIAL MERIT AWARD
(For a NASS Full Member, nominated by a NASS Full Member)
Ken “Scobie” Bedford – £5,000 individual prize
Employer – John Dunlop
After 30 years working in racing, Scobie Bedford’s huge commitment and dedication to his job, and to the industry, has been recognised. He is the first winner of the NASS Special Merit Award, an award for someone who deserves special recognition for their work in the industry and who has to ‘go beyond’ on a day-to-day basis. This award was open to any NASS Full Member, with nominations also coming from Full Members and Ken will be awarded with his prize at the annual Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards.
Scobie has seen the racing industry from many different angles and is currently a well established member of the John Dunlop’s Castle Stables, in Arundel. He has suffered a number of injuries and one in particular came close to ending his racing career. However, his love for horses and for the sport meant that giving up was not an option, well at least not one that he was prepared to consider.
Scobie has travelled all over the country throughout his racing career and is well known within the community of Arundel, as well as within the racing industry as a whole. He is a role model to stable staff, both young and old.
In announcing Scobie as the winner Jim Cornelius, NASS Chief Executive, said: “Although each of the nominations received for this award deserved consideration, Scobie well reflected two of the main criteria – a lifelong commitment to racing whilst overcoming adversity during it as well as supporting Stable Staff in general.”
DEDICATION TO RACING AWARD
(For those who have spent more than 10 years within the industry)
Jimmy Scott – £5,000 and £5,000 to be shared amongst his colleagues
Employer – Sir Michael Stoute
Position – Travelling Head Lad
In his own words, racing has given, and continues to give, Jimmy Scott a very enjoyable life and he owes a lot to the sport for keeping him going through some very tough times.
He started out by gaining an apprenticeship with Cecil Boyd-Rochfort at Freemason Lodge. Jimmy joined Sir Michael when he set up in 1972 at Freemason Lodge and since then, has been an extremely valuable and loyal member of the yard.
Jimmy Scott was born to do his job. He loves travelling with the horses and has been all over the world with them, often working very long hours. With his extremely approachable nature, he is a perfect representative for the yard and he enjoys talking to any group of people, from owners, to the media, to a Clerk of the Course.
Jimmy has a number of achievements throughout his career that he is immensely proud of, including being asked to ride one of the Queen’s horses, Gold Aura, at the age of 17. However, he believes his most worthwhile achievement was some 40 years ago, when he helped to save the life of a horse called Red Byrn.
For Jimmy, racing has been a lot more than simply a job. It’s his livelihood and although he is coming up to retirement age next year, he has definitely not thought about hanging up his riding boots just yet!
Larry Wargen – £2,000 and £2,000 to be shared amongst his colleagues
Employer – Luca Cumani
Position – Head Yard/Feed Man
After 53 years in the racing industry, Larry’s enthusiasm and dedication to racing is unquestionable and his commitment is confirmed when he says: “Racing has enriched my life and not once have I ever wanted to do anything else or live my life in any other way.”
Larry has seen the industry from so many different angles in his time and his extensive knowledge is often the point of reference for many in the yard. He started out as an apprentice for Norman Bertie in May 1957 and one of his greatest highlights was when he was asked to ride Ballymoss around the parade ring at York in 1958. From that moment on, he knew that racing was to be his life.
When Norman retired in 1961, his apprenticeship was transferred to Atty Corbett. In that year, Larry had his first ride and impressively, this was not only the first ride of over 1000 in his career, but also his first win. Despite many injuries over the years and struggles with his weight, Larry persevered and never lost the will to the ride, or the admiration for the sport that he loves.
Larry’s next destination was Bedford House Stables, with Luca Cumani and this is where he is today. He arrived in 1987 as a Stable Lad and then became Head Yard/Feed Man. Larry has always formed strong bonds with horses and particularly enjoys the challenge of some more difficult horses. His favourite of the Cumani string is Zomaradah, who he has travelled all over the world with.
Larry says: “At 68 years old I still love the early morning’s, winter or summer alike, when I walk into the yard and the day begins.”
Clifford Baker – £2,000 and £2,000 to be shared amongst his colleagues
Employer – Paul Nicholls
Position – Head Lad
Clifford has spent all of his working life in racing and his commitment and dedication to the industry, and to his job, is indisputable. His enthusiasm and his appetite for success are evident, as is his loyalty to every horse and members of staff in his care.
Unlike many people in the racing industry, Clifford was not born into racing, and he did not sit on a horse until the age of 11. At the age of 16, when he was offered a job with David Nicholson, his life changed forever and since his very first days sweeping yards, he became hooked.
After 11 years working for ‘The Duke’, in February 1988, Clifford was offered the job of Head Lad. As if this was not good enough news just three weeks later, Charter Party was victorious in the Gold Cup and this became a month which undoubtedly shaped Clifford’s career.
Clifford’s dedication is not limited to racing as a sport, but also extends to his employers. In his 33 years in the industry, Clifford has only worked for two people, the first being David Nicholson and the second another Champion Trainer, Paul Nicholls.
The time that Clifford has spent with Paul Nicholls has been full of excitement and success and just one example of this is that he rode See More Business daily before his success in the 1998 Gold Cup. However, the most exceptional horse that he has been responsible for is without a doubt, Kauto Star. Clifford has partnered this exceptional horse on the gallops over the last few years, and Kauto’s record breaking achievements are obviously extremely special to Clifford. There’s not a person in racing who wouldn’t dream of being involved with such an outstanding equine hero as Kauto Star.
STABLE AND STABLE STAFF EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR 2009
Stuart Messenger – who receives a prize of £25,000; £15,000 for himself plus £10,000 to be shared amongst his stable colleagues (in addition to prize money for winning his category)