Racing gives Stewart second chance following spell in prison
On a night of wonderful stories at the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards there were few so emotional as that of Adrian Stewart, who won the David Nicholson Newcomer Award.
Stewart, 29 and from Beeston in Leeds, had a difficult start in life – including a spell in prison – but has been given a second chance by racing, one he has seized with both hands having joined trainer David Loughnane in the last year.
Speaking after the awards ceremony, Stewart said: "It's something special, the people that I've got around me and the support of Dave and Sarah [Hoyland, assistant], who are two amazing people who have helped me get where I am tonight.
"The horses have given me a whole different life that I could only have dreamed and wished for. They couldn't have given me a better life than what I have now."
Stewart's path into racing began in prison where he was asked if he had considered a career in racing.
He applied to the Northern Racing College and paid tribute to the centre's then chief executive Dawn Goodfellow.
"The day I got released I applied," he said. "It was Dawn Goodfellow who gave me the chance having never sat on a horse. That's why I am where I am today because of the racing college.
"I can't thank the NRC enough for what they've done for me."
Things did not go smoothly to start with following an initial placement with Ian Williams.
Stewart said: "I must have been there for a couple of weeks and upped and left because I felt useless.
"The people there had ten, 15 years experience and they knew what they were doing whereas I didn't have a clue what I was doing."
However, he tried again when trainer Kevin Frost advertised for staff.
"He gave me a chance and got me up to scratch but then he was moving yards," Stewart said.
"So I stayed at Helshaw Grange with Dave and he has taken me further. He knows if you are working towards something and if you are working hard enough for it, he will help you achieve what you want to achieve.
"Him and Sarah, I couldn't ask for any more than what they have done for me."
In addition to his prize-money, Stewart also won a five-day educational trip to Dubai to learn more about that country’s racing, culture and customs.
Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards winners
Employee of the Year: Jessica McLernon (Richard Fahey)
Leadership Award: Jessica McLernon (Richard Fahey)
Runners-up: Andrea Kelly (Tim Vaughan), Edward Murrell (Juddmonte Farms)
Rider/Groom Award: Petra Sebestikova (Luca Cumani)
Runners-up: Ben Stephens (Malcolm Jefferson), Faisal Tahir (Henry Spiller)
Stud Staff Award: Sarah Taylor (Mickley Stud)
Runners-up: Kate Ford (Goldford Stud), Daniel James (Brookside Stud)
Dedication to Racing Award: William Reddy (Eve Johnson Houghton)
Runners-up: Chris Jerdin (Oliver Sherwood), Patrick Lennon (Shadwell Stud)
David Nicholson Newcomer Award: Adrian Stewart (David Loughnane)
Runners-up: Hannah Farrell (Dianne Sayer), Josephine Saunders (Hillwood Stud)
Rory Macdonald Community Award: John & Jackie Porter (ex Injured Jockeys Fund)
Runners-up: Angela French (The Racing Centre), Peter Williams (British Racing School)
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