An inspirational compilation from a world of unsung heroes has been selected as the finalists in the 2022 Australian Stud and Stable Staff Awards.
Representing a range of occupations from across the thoroughbred racing and breeding industry, the 14 finalists range from stable hands to re-trainers to trackwork riders to men and women who ensure that future generations of racehorses are conceived, born and raised with love and devotion.
For all of them, the SSSA, offers both recognition and reward.
An initiative of Thoroughbred Breeders Australia, and Racing Australia and supported by Godolphin, the Awards offer cash prizes in seven areas: Leadership, Horsemanship, Dedication to Breeding, Dedication to Racing, Care and Welfare, Administration and Ancillary and a Newcomer award.
In 2022, the eighth year for the SSSA in Australia, the judging panel has some typically difficult decisions to make.
The Dedication to Breeding (sponsored by Magic Millions) and Dedication to Racing (Sponsored by the Australian Turf Club) categories could well speak for the entire industry, and as a result they have revealed some outstanding figures.
In the former, Kelly Frost from Godolphin’s Northwood Park farm in Victoria and Drew Plater from Strawberry Hill Stud are both regarded as “naturals” in their nominated categories.
The Dedication to Racing contenders Michael O’Grady from Tasmania and Reg Fleming from Godolphin’s Melbourne team constantly use their decades of experience to extract the best from the horses they handle and offer the same to the colleagues they work with.
The task of educating retired racehorses for a life after racing is an area that evokes great passion, a quality possessed in large doses by the Care and Welfare Award (sponsored by Racing Queensland) finalists Fiona McIntyre and Grace Chantler.
McIntyre’s record as a re-trainer, a job she does as well as working full-time in another career, has made her renowned in both Australia and abroad, while Chantler specialises in picking up horses least likely to be taken on by other re-trainers.
In the Leadership category (sponsored by the Victoria Racing Club), Liesl Baumann the operations manager at Cressfield Stud and Sean Keogh a senior foreman at Godolphin’s Flemington training base, were nominated by colleagues who look to them as inspirations.
The finalists in the Horsemanship category (sponsored by Inglis) are Adam Shankly, a man who “stands out in a team of exceptional horsemen” and Emile Fredericks, the assistant yearling manager at Widden Stud where his calmness and confidence have made him one of the farm’s greatest assets.
For the racing and breeding industries to function efficiently, the office is as important as the racetrack or the paddock, and for those who organise, administer, answer phones, keep the books in order and just about everything else, there is the Administration and Ancillary Award (sponsored by the MRC Foundation).
The finalists in 2022 are Jess Hood from Arrowfield Stud and Emma Cully from the prominent syndicator, Star Thoroughbreds.
Hood has been on the Arrowfield team for 21 years during which time her nominator Paul Messara says: “Jess has had a positive impact on every part of the business.”
A similar accolade was bestowed on Cully by Star’s founder and leader Denise Martin who regards her as “a revelation who is vital to all aspects of our business”.
One of the aims in introducing the Newcomer Award (sponsored by Thoroughbred Industry Careers and Marcus Oldham College) was to provide incentive for those near the beginning of their working life, and in the latest finalists, that ambition lives with Matilda Jones from the Waterhouse Bott racing stable and Sacha Roberts, a recent addition to the team of Mick Kent Racing in Victoria.
An overall Thoroughbred Excellence Award (sponsored by Godolphin) provides an additional prize of $5,000 to a winner from the above categories (excluding the Care and Welfare and Newcomer awards) judged to have made a “significant, exceptional contribution” to the industry.
The winners in each category, except Newcomer, will receive a trophy and cash prize of $10,000 with $1,000 to their employer to share among staff. The Newcomer winner receives $5,000 and an educational racing experience in Dubai.
The winners will be announced at the Stud and Stable Staff Awards presentation ceremony at the Gold Coast Turf Club on Wednesday, 25 May.