In any racing season, the survival and success of the thoroughbred racing and breeding industry are primarily due to the dedication of those who work anonymously behind the scenes.
But during a year in which Australia and the world were affected so disastrously by the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry owed more to its backstage crew than ever.
If not for the diligence and care of all industry participants, Australian racing would have been forced to close down, as it did in many other countries.
It is, therefore, more relevant than ever that Australia’s Stud and Stable Staff Awards (SSSA) will again honour and reward the strappers, stablehands, trackwork riders, breakers, grooms, stud hands, float drivers, office administrative staff, re-homers, and more.
As a tribute to them all, the Stud and Stable Staff Awards offer recognition and more than $100,000 in prizemoney.
Nominations for the seventh edition of the Awards staged by Thoroughbred Breeders Australia and Racing Australia and supported by Godolphin are now open.
Offering prizes in seven categories, plus an overall Excellence Award, the SSSA endeavour to add balance to the way the industry rewards those who keep it going.
TBA Chief Executive, Tom Reilly, said the Awards represented the gratitude the racing and breeding industry owed to its workers.
“Great trust was placed in the industry to take responsibility for its own existence during all the lockdowns and restrictions imposed on the wider community,” Reilly said.
“Much of that trust was borne by those who work in racing stables, on farms and in other areas behind the scenes. Thanks to their conscientious approach to the restrictions and precautions, many livelihoods were preserved.”
The significance of the SSSA is also reflected in the words of the 2019 Excellence Award winner Joe Agresta, a renowned exercise rider who played a vital role in several of trainer Bart Cummings’ Melbourne Cup wins.
“None of us do it for money because there isn’t any. We do it because we love horses, love being with them, love looking after them,” Agresta says.
“These Awards mean so much to everyone who is nominated, not just the winners.
“These are the people who are rarely seen or heard, but they are as important as anyone in the business.”
Nominations for the Awards are open to all workers in all categories and anyone can nominate anyone.
The SSSA categories for 2021 are Leadership, Horsemanship, Dedication to Breeding, Dedication to Racing, Administrative and Ancillary Services and Thoroughbred Care and Welfare, all of which offer a trophy and $10,000 to the winner, $3,000 to the runner-up and $1,000 to share among their workplace colleagues.
In addition, the Newcomer Award carries a $5,000 prize plus an educational experience with Godolphin in Dubai in 2022, with the winner of the Excellence Award receiving $5,000 in addition to the category Award, with a further $1,000 to be shared among colleagues.
Nominations for the 2021 SSSA open on 8 January, they will close on 9 March, and nomination forms are available online via the Stud and Stable Staff Awards website studandstablestaffawards.com.au/
The Awards will be presented at the Gold Coast on the 26 May.