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Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Presenting the finalists in the running for these special awards

Newcomer award contender June Palmer Kimpton
1 of 7

Click here to watch the awards live from 9pm


Tony Lynch
Age 25
Employer Wadacre Stud
Location Liverpool
Position Apprentice stud groom
Length of time in yard 16 months

Tony does not come from a racing background and lives in Liverpool. He therefore found himself in an alien environment when he was sent on a three-day Thoroughbred Breeders' Association course in Newmarket in December 2015. He is highly motivated however, absorbs every word and puts all he learns to use every day. Tony has learned how to handle mares, foals and colts with tact and sensitivity and the horses adore him. He is extremely dedicated and very passionate about horses. He is trustworthy, talented, pays great attention to detail but above all he is incredibly kind. He sits up with the foaling mares eager to learn and is looking forward to the future and seeing them fulfill their potential. Within a mere 16 months Tony has become a huge asset to the team and Wadacre Stud wouldn’t be the same without him.

June Palmer Kimpton
Age 20
Employer Ben Haslam
Location Middleham
Position Lass/work rider
Length of time in yard Nine months

In just over a year June has already made herself an invaluable member of the small team at Castle Hill Stables. She has the kind of work ethic you can’t teach and is the sort of member of staff you’d simply like to clone. Although she has ridden all her life she had never ridden racehorses before the age of 17. She was so determined that she went to the Northern Racing College and has since come on in leaps and bounds. She is a highly competent jockey who has just achieved getting her amateur licence. She can be put on any horse and forms firm favourites among the horses others may not be so keen on. She has a real eagerness to learn and is currently working towards her stage three. She is someone who has huge potential and all the ingredients required to do really well in the industry.

Elisha Whittington
Age 17
Employer Tom Dascombe
Location Cheshire
Position Stable lass
Length of time in yard One year

Elisha does not come from a racing background and is a model British Racing School graduate. She is self-motivated, enthusiastic and a joy to have as part of the Manor House Stables team. She is just 17, is mature beyond her years and has already been responsible for accompanying a runner to France. She has only been part of the team for just over a year, yet was able to step up when the assistant trainer was unable to attend a talk he was due to give about the horseracing industry. Elisha took up the challenge and received a standing ovation for her efforts. She has continued to be active in giving talks about the racing industry, sharing her experiences and the opportunities she has had within racing. She is enrolled on a further course as her next goal is have rides as an apprentice jockey.


Mick Finn
Age 60
Employer Graeme McPherson
Location Cheltenham
Position Yard manager
Length of time in yard Eight years

Mick came to help Graeme McPherson, a barrister by profession, fulfill his dream of setting up as a licensed jumps trainer in 2009. Under Mick’s leadership they recruited a small team of staff, set up the yard and began to attract owners and horses. They began with eight horses and have now filled all 35 boxes. This has been a landmark season, sending out 100 winners from the yard, and Mick has been at the very heart of this success. He is not only a complete horseman but leads the team of staff with great skill. Each member of the team, from the most junior to the most senior looks up to him with utmost respect and would say they learn from him every day. He is approachable by anyone about anything. Mick goes above and beyond in every way, is always cheerful and an inspiration to all who work with him.

Hayley Kelly
Age 39
Employer Mark Johnston
Location Middleham
Position Yard manager
Length of time in yard 22 years

Hayley was born and bred into the industry – her grandfather bred National Hunt horses. She joined Mark Johnston Racing in 1994 on leaving the Racing School at the age of 17. Hayley has shown an outstanding depth of commitment over the last 22 years and she has worked her way up the yard. She became travelling manager, where she gained a wealth of experience, before being appointed yard manager in 2012. She now runs a team of 55 horses and 14 members of staff. One of Hayley’s main attributes is that she cares for members of her team, both equine and human, and takes pride in seeing them get on in life. Many of the youngsters coming in are often allocated to Hayley’s yard as she has a caring, pro-active approach to motivating and inspiring her team members. Her willingness to help her team, through her extensive experience, knows no bounds.

Rory O’Dowd
Age 46
Employer Brian Meehan
Location Marlborough
Position Assistant trainer
Length of time in yard 15 years

Rory is the ‘behind the scenes’ stalwart. He has worked in racing for nearly 30 years and has been assistant trainer for nine. He is an exemplary manager, team leader, team player and ambassador. His natural horsemanship and knowledge of veterinary issues is invaluable. Rory has an in-depth knowledge of each of the 80 horses in training at Manton House Estate. His commitment is shown by the racing successes of the yard’s flagbearers including Rodrigo De Triano, who he looked after and rode for two years. He let nothing come between him and the needs of the horse. He is a decision-maker to whom everyone turns to for advice and guidance and his professionalism with owners, horses and staff is second to none. Few people can achieve effective management in an upwards as well as a downwards direction with the great humour, self-possession and sheer professionalism that Rory shows.


Jamie Bunsell 
Age 35
Employer Paul Henderson
Location Hampshire
Position Work rider
Length of time in yard Four years

Jamie plays a key part in keeping the small team together and motivated. A family man with three young children, Jamie is hugely committed to his life in racing while also being a dedicated father. His hard work is appreciated by the owners and he is an exceptional rider. This was principally seen in his handling of the overly keen Un Beau Roman, who was wound up both at home and rushed the fences when racing. Jamie rode him every day and kept him relaxed. He then went on to win first time out this season at Cheltenham, giving the yard the biggest ever win. He often wins the best turned out and shares it with the lads at Christmas. He also stepped up and rode out double his lots to help out a colleague who was injured last summer. He’s a good, honest worker, an exceptional rider and great team player.

Jason Favell
Age 29
Employer William Haggas
Location Newmarket
Position Second assistant
Length of Time in Yard: Six years

Jason is too valuable a rider not to be made full assistant, yet has guided many assistant trainers up the ranks with admirable maturity. Due to his outstanding talent in the saddle he is partnered with the very best horses in the yard including flagbearers Muthmir and Mutakayyef. He is a natural horseman and has great empathy with each horse he rides, with his calm and attentive approach always seeing the desired effect. He is a consummate professional and is respected by everyone. He has a great work ethic, an excellent attitude and is a model employee who does not have a background in racing. Jason is an integral part of the yard’s improved performances over the last five seasons. A keen sportsman outside of racing, his generosity was personified when he raised £750 for Racing Welfare in running the London Marathon.

Chetan Singh
Age 42
Employer Andrew Balding
Location Berkshire
Position Rider/groom
Length of time in yard Eight years

At seventeen Chetan attended the apprentice jockey school in Hyderabad and started his career in India before moving to England in 2003. He has spent the last eight years with Andrew Balding and lives on the yard with his wife and two children. Chetan is a very capable rider and particularly adept at handling strong and tricky colts. He began taking Tullius racing when he arrived at the yard and has led him up for all eight of his victories from Park House. He has travelled the horse from France and Italy and won numerous best- turned-out prizes with him including those for the Eclipse and the Champion Stakes. He is cheerful and pleasant and always the first to volunteer for additional jobs, even the least glamorous tasks. Chetan’s reliability and adaptability combined with his horsemanship and trustworthiness make him an extremely useful member of the team.

In just over a year, June has already made herself an invaluable member of the small team at Castle Hill Stables
E.W. Terms
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