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Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

Pat Farrell, Moyglare's long-serving stud groom, wins top award

Pat Farrell: award winner has worked for Moyglare Stud for the last 45 years
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Pat Farrell, stud groom at Moyglare Stud in Maynooth, County Kildare, was announced as the Irish Racing Excellence Award winner – the top honour at the 2018 Irish Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards, held at the Knightsbrook Hotel, Trim, County Meath – on Monday night.

It was also a big night for Gordon Elliott’s Cullentra stables with three members of the trainer’s staff – Georgie Benson, Mary Nugent and Camilla Sharples – all receiving individual awards.

Farrell, who also won the Dedication to Racing Award, was selected by the 12-member judging committee for the highest accolade from among eight individual category winners.

He has worked for Moyglare Stud for the last 45 years, only 11 years less than the stud’s foundation. Farrell has foaled, handled, broken or ridden many high-class horses during his long career, including all of Moyglare’s Irish-bred Group 1 winners.

Benson, winner of the Newcomer Award, looks after Grade 1 winners Apple’s Jade and Mick Jazz among others, as well as the recently retired Cause Of Causes. She received a trophy and €2,500, plus a five-day educational tour to Dubai with flights and accommodation included.

Nugent and Sharples, Benson's colleagues at Elliott’s yard, were successful in the Horse Care and Travelling Head Person categories respectively.

Gordon Elliott: "They are brilliant girls and I’m very proud of them"

Commenting on their awards, Elliott said: “They are brilliant girls and I’m very proud of them. Along with our other staff they keep the show on the road and it’s fantastic that all their hard work and dedication has been recognised by the awards committee.”

The Administration Award was won by Gillian Carey, operations manager at Fairyhouse racecourse, and the County Meath track won the Racecourse Award, which included €2,500 to be spent on upgrading facilities at the track that will benefit stable employees.

A total of ten awards, worth €84,000, were presented by former Meath All-Ireland footballer and RTÉ GAA analyst Colm O’Rourke. Richard Forristal, editor of the Racing Post in Ireland, acted as MC for the occasion.

The trophies, by Kilkenny-based sculptor Ani Mollereau, are a contemporary design of a thoroughbred horse representing the spirit of the horseracing industry.

Bernard Caldwell, chairman of the Irish Stablestaff Association, said: “Congratulations to all of this year’s award winners and finalists. Stud and stable staff play a vital role in Irish racing and breeding so it’s great to see their skills and dedication rewarded.

“I would like to thank Godolphin for their extremely generous sponsorship, our media partners The Racing Post and Horse Racing Ireland who organised the entire event.”

Diana Cooper, Strategic Advisor, Charities, for Godolphin, said: “Godolphin is honoured to sponsor the Irish Stud and Stable Staff Awards, which this year received a record number of nominations.

“The judging panel had a very difficult task in picking the category winners, each of which emerged from very strong fields.

“Congratulations to all and thanks also to their colleagues who nominated them. Tonight's awards showcase the dedication and talent which make this a great industry.”

Roll of honour

Irish Racing Excellence Award

Pat Farrell, stud groom, Moyglare Stud

Administration Award

Gillian Carey, operations manager, Fairyhouse racecourse


Denis Hickey, racing secretary, Ballydoyle

Vicki McWey, supervisor registrations department, Horse Racing Ireland

Newcomer Award

Georgie Benson, stable lass, Gordon Elliott


Joanne Eaton, stable lass, Willie McCreery

Charlie Sweeney, pupil assistant/second head lad, Eyrefield House Stud, County Kildare

Horse Care Award

Mary Nugent, travelling assistant, Gordon Elliott


Emma Connolly, travelling head lass/assistant trainer, Noel Meade

Sinead O'Sullivan, head girl, John Murphy

In The Saddle Award

James Rath, head lad, Liz Doyle


Audrey O'Neill, exercise rider and groom, John Oxx

Josep Sans Sanchez, head man, Patrick Prendergast

Travelling Head Person Award

Camilla Sharples, travelling head girl, Gordon Elliott


Tina Evans, travelling head girl, Joseph O’Brien

Jason Forsyth, travelling head person, John Oxx

Leads by Example Award

Stephen Thorne, assistant trainer, Adrian McGuinness


Tom Daly, assistant head man, Dermot Weld 

Valerie Keatley, head girl, Johnny Murtagh

Dedication to Racing and Breeding Award

Pat Farrell, stud groom, Moyglare Stud


Eamonn Leigh, head man, Jessica Harrington

Tommy Ryan, head lad, Edward O’Grady

Racing and Breeding Support Services Award

Martin ‘Snowy’ Pearse, facilities manager, Punchestown racecourse


Martin Leahy, master farrier, Bruff, County Limerick

Sharon O'Regan, head of operations, Weatherbys Ireland GSB Ltd, County Kildare

Racecourse Award

Fairyhouse racecourse, Ratoath, County Meath

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They are brilliant girls and I’m very proud of them. They keep the show on the road and it’s fantastic that all their hard work has been recognised
E.W. Terms
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