'It was huge and almost the highlight of my career to date'
In the third in our series on the Godolphin Stud & Stable Staff Awards, Jessica McLernon, assistant trainer to Richard Fahey and 2018 winner of the leadership category and overall Employee of the Year, talks about her awards and the challenges facing professional stables
What do you need to be a success working in a professional stable?
You have to be passionate and hard-working to excel in your role. You also need to be determined to progress your career, to grow it in the direction you want. Whether that’s to be a secretary, travelling head lad, jockey, whatever, you need to be driven to follow your ambitions.
What is the best thing about your job?
What springs to mind first are the days when you have a Group winner or the days when you have trebles or maybe a four-timer. Those sort of occasions really make the hard work worth it. Beyond that, it has to be the process of watching our horses develop from yearlings to two-year-olds to fully grown racehorses. There's always the chance that one of them may develop into a star.
You're assistant trainer to Richard Fahey; what sort of man is he like to work for?
He’s a great person to work for. He’s incredibly laid-back and easy-going, so that makes him very approachable, which I think is key. Everyone associated with the yard feels as if they can go to him with concerns and opinions. He also understands that many of his staff are really keen to progress in their careers, and he’ll always do his utmost to help facilitate that.
What are the biggest challenges facing professional racing stables?
I think the obvious answer has to be the issues with staffing. There’s no doubt this is problem that affects all stables and studs irrelevant of size. However, I think there is the right infrastructure to help battle this problem. Organisations such as the BHA and Careers in Racing are doing everything they can to reverse this trend, and I think they have much of what they need in place to do that.
Is there anything you would change about your job?
No. I’m really content and happy in my job and where I've got to in my career so far.
What did it mean to win the Employee of the Year award?
It was huge and one of the highlights of my career to date. Doing the job that I do, it doesn't get much better than winning the overall prize, especially in light of how many excellent stable staff there are in the country. It was also great for the yard, there was a great buzz and everyone was so supportive. It felt more like a prize for everyone at Musley Bank than just me personally. It was also nice for northern racing to get that sort of recognition.
How important are these awards?
Really important. There’s nothing else like them and it’s a shame that there can be only a handful of winners on the night because every one of the 6,000 stud and stable staff deserve an award. The night's very existence,owever, does a great job of highlighting the amount of hard work that goes on behind the scenes.
>>The Godolphin Stud & Stable Staff Awards, set up to recognise and reward the hard work of stud and stable employees in Britain, are sponsored by Godolphin and run by the BHA in association with the Racing Post. There is more than £120,000 in prize-money on offer, with the Employee of the Year – to be announced on February 18, 2019 – drawn from the winners of six categories. Nominations, which close on November 20, can be made via studandstablestaffawards.co.uk.