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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Spike in entries as industry gets behind Godolphin Stud & Stable Staff Awards

Horse racing: Last year's Irish Racing Excellence Award winner Owen Smyth of Kildangan Stud being presented with the Leads by Example Award by Brian Cody
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Nominations for the 2018 Godolphin Stud & Stable Staff Awards have been whittled down to a shortlist of 24 after entries more than doubled from last year’s 156 to close to a mammoth 350.

At a ceremony that will be held at the Knightsbrook Hotel in Trim, County Meath on Monday, May 21, the 24 finalists will contend for eight awards, all bar one of which carries a prize of €5,000.

There is €2,500 and a trip to Dubai up for grabs for the Newcomer Award, while each individual winner’s yard, stud or company will also receive a cash prize to be divided among colleagues.

There will be ten awards on the night with a cash prize fund of €84,000, while the overall Irish Racing Excellence Award winner will be chosen from one of the Administration, Horse Care, In the Saddle, Travelling Head Person, Leads by Example and Dedication to Racing and Breeding categories.

Horse racing: Team photo from the 2017 Godolphin Stud & Stable Staff Awards

The Racecourse Award winner, which will be announced on the night, will be selected by the Irish Stable Staff Association (ISSA).

Barbara White, marketing and PR manager with HRI, suggested that the appointment of former trainer Sandra Hughes as the event’s ambassador was a contributing factor to the spike in nominations.

“Of all the staff awards Godolphin sponsor in Ireland, England, France, America and Australia, that is the highest number of nominations ever received,” she revealed, “and having Sandra on the ground was a big help.

"Her specific role as ambassador was to get in the car and to call yards and stud farms and encourage people to enter staff.”

Bernard Caldwell, chairman of the ISSA, expressed his gratitude to all those who put names forward for contention.

“Thank you to all those who nominated their friends and colleagues," he said. "It’s a testament to Godolphin’s very generous sponsorship that these awards go from strength to strength every year.”

Godolphin’s Diana Cooper added: “The contribution from stud and stable staff to the success of the thoroughbred industry in Ireland plays a vital role in confirming Ireland’s global reputation.

"All 24 finalists are fitting examples of Irish racing excellence and Godolphin is delighted to sponsor these awards and recognise and reward their inspirational work ethic and dedication.”

Since Godolphin got behind the awards in 2015, the initiative has grown into one of the most popular social events in Irish racing’s social calendar.

“Godolphin’s generous support for these awards has allowed us to give proper recognition to their achievements and to publicise the contribution of everyone in the stud, stable and racing support sectors,” said Michael O’Rourke, who chairs the judging committee.

White, meanwhile, spoke for all when concluding: "We're just looking forward to it now. It's always a great night. In our position, we're quite privileged to attend a lot of nice award ceremonies, but the atmosphere in that room every year is pretty special."

Irish Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff awards 2018 finalists

Racing and Breeding Support Services

Martin Leahy Master Farrier, Bruff, County Limerick 
Sharon O'Regan Head of Operations, Weatherbys Ireland GSB Ltd, County Kildare
Martin 'Snowy' Pearce Facilities Manager, Punchestown Racecourse, County Kildare

Administration Award

Gillian Carey Operations Manager, Fairyhouse Racecourse, County Meath
Denis Hickey Racing Secretary, Ballydoyle, County Tipperary
Vicki McWey Supervisor Registrations Department, Horse Racing Ireland, County Kildare

Newcomer Award

Georgie Benson Stable Lass, Gordon Elliott, County Meath
Joanne Eaton Stable Lass, Willie McCreery, County Kildare
Charlie Sweeney Pupil Assistant/Second Head Lad, Eyrefield House Stud, County Kildare

Horse Care Award

Emma Connolly Travelling Head Lass / Assistant Trainer, Noel Meade, County Meath
Mary Nugent Travelling Assistant, Gordon Elliott, County Meath
Sinead O'Sullivan Head Girl, John Murphy, County Cork

In The Saddle Award

Audrey O'Neill Exercise Rider & Groom, John Oxx, County Kildare
James Rath Head Lad, Liz Doyle, County Wexford
Josep Sans Sanchez Head Man, PJ Prendergast, County Kildare

Travelling Head Person Award

Tina Evans Travelling Head Person, Joseph O’Brien, County Kilkenny
Jason Forsyth Travelling Head Person, John Oxx, County Kildare
Camilla Sharples Travelling Head Girl, Gordon Elliott, County Meath

Leads by Example Award

Tom Daly Assistant Head Man, Dermot Weld, County Kildare
Valerie Keatley Head Girl, Johnny Murtagh, County Kildare
Stephen Thorne Assistant Trainer, Adrian McGuinness, County Dublin

Dedication to Racing and Breeding Award

Pat Farrell Broodmare Manager, Moyglare Stud, County Kildare
Eamonn Leigh Headman, Jessica Harrington, County Kildare
Tommy Ryan Head Lad, Edward O’Grady, County Tipperary

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It’s a testament to Godolphin’s very generous sponsorship that these awards go from strength to strength every year
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