Record nominations for 2017 Stud and Stable Staff Awards

Mike Hedge

Racing stables large and small, stud farms, race clubs and almost every other section of the Australian thoroughbred industry are behind a record number of nominations for the Australian Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards for 2017.

Victoria’s No.1 trainer Darren Weir, Sydney maestro Chris Waller, Golden Slipper-winning trainer Gary Portelli and Brisbane’s leading trainer Tony Gollan have all nominated staff members in the six award categories, as has the stable of dual Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Robert Hickmott.

Entries for the awards staged by Thoroughbred Breeders Australia and Racing Australia have also come from Newhaven and Gooree Park Studs in NSW and the major Queensland nurseries Glenlogan Park, Raheen Stud and Aquis Farm, and many others.

At a time when the Federal Government’s proposed changes to the 457 visa system has focussed attention on the sections of the horseracing and breeding industries that often go unnoticed, the strong entry reinforces the value of those who work behind the scenes.

Henry Plumptre, Managing Director of Godolphin in Australia said, “the overwhelming support is reflective of the strength of the Australian racing and breeding industry and we thank all those who took the time to nominate a member of staff.”

“There are outstanding staff within the racing and breeding industry who give dedication and commitment to their craft and these awards provide them with the recognition they deserve.”

Exercise riders, stablehands, stud grooms, office staff, float drivers, blacksmiths and many others who keep the whole thing ticking over are all eligible for recognition, and the $10,000 prize that goes to each of the winners in the categories of Horsemanship, Dedication to Racing, Dedication to Breeding, Thoroughbred Care and Welfare, Leadership and Administration and Ancillary.

Weir, a former farrier whose stables in country Victoria regularly produces more winners than any other in Australia, is acutely aware of the value of his entire staff and the role they play in keeping his business afloat.

“We’ve put together a great team at the Ballarat and Warrnambool stables, there’s everything from accountants to gardeners, truck drivers, exercise riders, you name it,” Weir says.

“What they all have in common is loyalty and dedication. I know that without them it would be a struggle.

“The GSSSA is a fantastic concept. Anything that recognises the stuff that goes on behind the scenes in racing is great, because there’s plenty that happens that no-one sees or knows about.

“It’s as important as anything else.”

The GSSSA reward racing industry participants in the UK, Ireland, France and the United States, as well as Australia.