Stud & Stable Staff Awards More Relevant than ever in 2021

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

The Awards will be presented at the Gold Coast on the 26 May.

Supporting Your Employees’ Mental health

Register For Mental Health Webinar

As we are all too aware, the impacts of Coronavirus has meant 2020 has been a challenging year. Whether it has been maintaining a business in lockdown, being prevented from seeing family and friends or the stress of the economic uncertainty, there have been more reasons for people to feel anxious than before. 

To help farm owners and managers of staff better deal with the challenge of mental health, Thoroughbred Breeders Australia has set up a webinar with mental health educator Pippa Baker. Pippa is known to TBA as she delivers mental health first aid training to our Fast Track students each year.

Pippa will provide some easy steps for supporting staff over the next few months (especially leading into Christmas), and some general tips on fostering good mental health within your team. 

There are two session times to choose from: Monday 30th November 5pm (AEDT) orTuesday 8th December 4pm (AEDT) and you can register for your preferred day by registering here:

Register For Mental Health Webinar

The webinar runs for one hour and we are encouraging all farms to get involved and register. Some of the topics that Pippa will touch on include: 

  • When should you be concerned?
  • Deciding whether to talk to the person
  • Planning your approach
  • How to have the conversation
  • Providing support and information as a Manager

You can read more about Pippa online here.

If you have any questions or would like further information on the webinars, please contact Cecelia at

COVID-19 Walk-on guidelines

Off the back of some questions from farms regarding walking-on mares during the breeding season, TBA has developed a set of protocols to assist breeders as they plan for the coming months. 

These guidelines are recommendations only and given the rapidly changing situation these may need to be revised in light of future developments. It is also important to follow any directions given by public health officials. 

COVID-19 Walk-On Guidelines:

  1. All paperwork should be completed beforehand and sent electronically where possible.
  2. Stallion farms should keep a record of all people visiting their farm and walking on mares (this can be done electronically or via a paper record).
  3. Those walking on mares should limit their contact with stallion farm staff.
  4. Hand sanitiser should be provided and used by any visitor.
  5. Stallion farms may ask those coming with a walk on mare to remain in the vehicle and have their staff unload and handle the mare. In which case, all handles on the truck should be sanitised.
  6. Alternatively, farms may ask those coming with mares to unload the mare and put her in a stable or walk in yard and remove the head collar.
  7. Where possible farms should set aside a toilet for the use of farm visitors.

Further to our update on Tuesday, the NSW Government has now officially listed the movement of mares as exempt from current border restrictions. Click on the link below to read more: 

NSW Border Restrictions – What You Can And Can’t Do

However, in addition to your border entry permit, the Government has advised that you will also need a COVID Safety Plan. You can download a simple template from the link below: 

NSW Government COVID Safety Plan – Agriculture

Movement Of Mares Interstate

Thoroughbred Breeders Australia (TBA) encourages all breeders sending mares interstate for the coming season to consider their transport plans well ahead of any movements.

TBA has been liaising with state and federal authorities and all governments have stated that breeding remains an essential agricultural activity. As such, thoroughbreds can be moved interstate.

However, anybody transporting horses will need an appropriate border permit for the states they are travelling to and from.

“The message from state governments has been very clear; that breeding is an essential activity and moving a mare between states to be covered is also an essential operational activity,” says Tom Reilly, TBA’s chief executive.

“But I would urge breeders, especially if they are moving horses themselves rather than using a transport company, to look at the application process for the permit they will need to travel and return from interstate.”

These permits often come with restrictions and each person travelling with a horse will need their own documentation and to carry identification.

For example, those travelling from Victoria to NSW will be required to keep a log of their movements while in their home state and then need to self isolate when in NSW. Those travelling into Queensland will also be required to remain isolated from the general public and keep records of where they have been.

In addition to having a valid border permit, TBA recommends that any farm worker moving horses across state boundaries carries a letter from their employer stating that they are carrying out an essential agricultural activity.

“While border permits are essential, I believe that if farm staff also carry a letter stating that they are an employee and that they are carrying out an essential agricultural activity it may avoid delays or confusion at borders,” added Reilly.

“The situation with borders has obviously changed a number of times in recent weeks, so I think having a letter can only help when travelling between jurisdictions.”

TBA suggests a simple short letter that states the person travelling the horse is an employee and they are moving the mare to be covered as part of essential agricultural activity. It should also be dated and have the contact details of the employer farm.

TBA is in ongoing dialogue with state and federal governments and will send out further updates when they are available.

Those breeders wanting to know more about how to apply for travel permits should go to the following sites:

New South Wales
Click here

Click here

Click here

South Australia
Click here

Click here

Western Australia
Click here

Thoroughbred aftercare welfare working group – issues paper

To assist those wanting to engage with the panel, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Welfare Group (TAWWG) have developed an issues paper, which you can download by clicking on the thumbnail below.

The issues paper can be summarised as raising seven areas of interest:

·     What is good welfare
·     Thoroughbred breeding
·     Traceability
·     Programs for horses leaving racing and breeding
·     Regulatory framework
·     Humane processing of horses
·     Research and Development

Also included in the document are the Terms of Reference.

These submissions will feed into the panel’s report, due for publication later this year, which will make practical recommendations to assist the thoroughbred racing and breeding industries in improving welfare outcomes.

The deadline for submissions is July 24, 2020. The TAWWG are keen to hear from all of those who are interested in this issue.

If individuals or groups have an idea to share, it is recommended to download and read the issues paper and then follow the instructions on how to make a submission.

Further information about the inquiry is available at

Expert panel seeking submissions to improve welfare of thoroughbreds

The independent welfare panel that was set up by the thoroughbred industry earlier this year, and is chaired by former Victorian Premier Dr Denis Napthine, is calling for submissions from interested parties to assist its aim of improving the welfare of horses leaving the racing and breeding industries.

From today until 12pm on Friday, July 24 2020, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Welfare Working Group (TAWWG) is seeking submissions from any groups or individuals who wish to have their say on the best methods of protecting the health and wellbeing of all thoroughbred horses, most notably those exiting the racing and breeding industry.

These submissions will feed into the panel’s report, due for publication later this year, which will make practical recommendations to assist the thoroughbred racing and breeding industries in improving welfare outcomes.

The four-person panel, which was formed by Thoroughbred Breeders Australia (TBA) in conjunction with a host of industry stakeholders including the Australian Trainers’ Association and Australian Jockeys’ Association, is made up of Dr Napthine, who also previously served as Victoria’s Minister for Racing and is a qualified veterinarian; Dr Ken Jacobs, a former director of the Australian Veterinary Association; Dr Bidda Jones, Chief Science and Strategy Officer for RSPCA Australia; and Jack Lake, a senior advisor on agricultural policy in the governments led by former prime ministers Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and Kevin Rudd.

As well as taking written submissions, the TAWWG will also aim to meet with a range of stakeholders from both inside and outside the racing and breeding industries, including animal welfare groups, over the coming months.

“This project can only be successful if there is strong engagement from all stakeholders, including animal welfare groups, the racing and breeding industries and indeed anyone who has valuable insights to share, so we would encourage as many people as possible to come forward and have their say,” said Dr Napthine.

“This important process will be open and transparent, and so anyone who wishes to provide their views, information and expertise will be given the opportunity to assist the panel’s considerations and guide our consultation process.

“We look forward to engaging with a wide range of people so that we can formulate a plan to ensure the health and welfare of all thoroughbreds, particularly those who have retired or who never made it to the racetrack.

“Thoroughbreds are central to an industry that provides 72,000 full-time jobs and generates more than $9 billion each year in direct and indirect benefits to Australia’s economy, so the industry has a duty of care to look after them before, during and after their racing careers.”

During their extensive consultation period, the TAWWG will also be seeking assistance and advice from an industry steering group comprising leading trainer Chris Waller, best known for training Winx; Neil Werrett, Board Member of the Victoria Racing Club and part-owner of Black Caviar; Vin Cox, Managing Director of Godolphin Australia; John Kelly, owner of Newhaven Park Stud; Martin Talty, CEO of the Australian Jockeys’ Association; Andrew Nichol, CEO of the Australian Trainers’ Association; and Tom Reilly, CEO of Thoroughbred Breeders Australia.

Any groups or individuals considering making a submission are first encouraged to read the issues paper available online at the TAWWG’s official website ( The paper raises a number of topics and questions that the panel believe are relevant to their work.

“We are grateful to the panel for giving their time and expertise for this project, which is so important for the future of the thoroughbred industry and our horses,” said Mr Reilly.

“I am hopeful that every organisation or person with an interest in thoroughbred welfare will want to contribute, from governments to regulators through to participants and welfare groups.”

The TAWWG may wish to quote from extracts of submissions, with appropriate attribution, unless those making submissions request they remain confidential. Submissions can be emailed to or posted to TAWWG, PO Box 149, Canterbury, NSW 2193.

For more information, please visit


For more information contact:

Dr Denis Napthine

Tom Reilly

Background: In February this year the federal, state and territory governments established working groups to look at developing standards and guidelines for the welfare and transport of horses, and also the feasibility of a national horse traceability register.

In a report tabled in November last year, the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee recommended the development of a traceability register. They said the register must serve a biosecurity function at its core, but also be designed in a way “that enables additional features to be incorporated into the system as it progresses” including the tracking of retired racehorses.

Australian Stud and Stable Staff Awards finalists announced for 2020

They represent the thousands of mostly unseen, often unsung and thoroughly essential members of Australia’s racing and breeding industry.

The 14 finalists announced today in the 2020 Australian Stud and Stable Staff Awards are the best-of-the-best in occupations ranging from mucking out stables, to administration, to education, riding, delivering foals, rehoming and retraining ex-racehorses and every other area of an industry that is one of the nation’s biggest.

People like Mandy Radecker, whose success as a jockey has been followed by a career curing problemed racehorses of their bad habits and passing on her knowledge.

Radecker’s nomination in the Horsemanship category is backed by the simple endorsement from her boss, Queensland trainer Michael Lakey: “Mandy has dedicated her life to the thoroughbred horse.”

Two of this year’s finalists, Kelly Colledge in the Newcomer category, and Sarah Moran in the Administration and Ancillary category, both demonstrated great resourcefulness in difficult circumstances.

The relatively inexperienced Colledge took over the running of Grafton trainer Brenden Mackay’s stable when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

As Mackay said: “Kelly saved my stable and is keeping my dream alive. She has a ‘next-level’ work ethic.”

Similarly, Sarah Moran, who worked in the office of Melbourne trainer Robbie Griffiths, stepped up when her boss was battling a brain aneurysm during 2019.

“I don’t know how we would have coped if Sarah hadn’t taken on a variety of extra roles. She was instrumental in keeping our business afloat,” Griffiths said.

Others, like Godolphin’s Simon Johnson, the Assistant Stud Manager at Woodlands Stud and a finalist in the Leadership Award, is commended as “exactly the person these awards were created for”.

Johnson, a highly accomplished horseman and dedicated educator, sees his role as a broad one.

“We have a duty to give everyone who comes into the industry and who shows a willingness to learn the opportunity to advance themselves,” Johnson said.

“These Awards recognise not so much the people like me, but all of those who give so much to ensure their farms and the industry are successful.”

In the Dedication to Racing category, Brett “Lofty” Killion has worked for some of Australia’s finest trainers over the past 25 years and is now the Brisbane foreman for Chris Waller.

Renowned as one of the few in the game who would arrive at Randwick before his first boss, Gai Waterhouse, Killion is described by his nominator as “honest, hard-working and ever-loyal”.

“Lofty has learned from people like Gai and her father’s legendary foreman ‘Spider’ Barker. He’s been influenced by a man with the outstanding horsemanship skills and eye of John Thompson and by the methodical search for perfection of Chris Waller,” his nominator, Reg Fleming said.

“He’s taken something from all of them.”

The Stud and Stable Staff Awards are supported by Godolphin worldwide and in Australia are staged by Thoroughbred Breeders Australia and Racing Australia with sponsorship from the Melbourne Racing Club Foundation, the Australian Turf Club and Magic Millions.

TBA Chief Executive Tom Reilly said the 2020 Awards are made against a testing background that has demonstrated more clearly than ever the value of those who keep the thoroughbred racing and breeding industry at their world-leading level.

“Australia was one of the few racing jurisdictions in the world where racing continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and one of the reasons for that was the dedication and discipline of the entire workforce,” Reilly said.

“The SSSA’s again highlights the quality of those who work behind the front line in the most vital roles.”

MRC Foundation Chief Operating Officer Warren Horton said his organisation was proud to again sponsor the Admin and Ancillary Award.

“The work these individuals perform behind the scenes is truly remarkable and they are the true unsung heroes of our industry. Good luck to all the nominees,” Horton said.

The full list of finalists in the seven SSSA categories is:

Leadership – Michael Shepherdson (McEvoy Mitchell Racing) and Simon Johnson (Godolphin)

Horsemanship – Wendy Smith (Blue Gum Farm) and Mandy Radecker (Michael Lakey Racing)

Australian Turf Club Dedication to Racing – Brett Killion (Chris Waller Racing) and Michael Hurry (Victoria Racing Club)

Magic Millions Dedication to Breeding – Chris Cooper (Godolphin) and Martin Bruechert (Coolmore Australia)

Melbourne Racing Club Foundation Administration and Ancillary – Tetsuhito Hirose (IRT) and Sarah Moran (Griffiths Racing)

Newcomer – Kelly Colledge (Brendan Mackay, trainer) and Alyssa Pickels (Kitchwin Hills Stud)

Thoroughbred Care and Welfare – Jade Willis (Skyfall Park) and Liz Andriske (SpareOne Rehoming)

The winner in each category, other than the Newcomer, receives $10,000 and a trophy with a further $3,000 to share among workplace colleagues. The winner in the Newcomer category receives $5,000.

A further $5,000 and a trophy is awarded for Thoroughbred Excellence to the category winner (except Newcomer and Care and Welfare) judged to have made an exceptional and significant contribution throughout the year.

The winners of each category will be announced in a virtual awards ceremony on Wednesday, June 17 at 7:30PM AEST via the Stud and Stable Staff Awards Website.

Podcast for Thoroughbred Breeders during covid-19

Thoroughbred Breeders Australia is committed to bringing breeders the most relevant information on COVID-19 that can assist our industry during this challenging time. That is why the TBA has partnered with Stable Financial to discuss government stimulus packages and the JobKeeper Payment that have been established to assist businesses affected by COVID-19.

The Federal Government has introduced the JobKeeper Payment to help employers meet the cost of staff. Given a lot of farms are looking to take advantage of JobKeeper, Tom Reilly has recorded two podcasts with TBA’s honorary treasurer, Adam Tims, to get his insight on the subsidy.

Adam – who has an accountancy business that specialises in the thoroughbred business – explains some of the intricacies of qualifying your business and your staff for the scheme. TBA hopes that this podcast will provide answers to many in the industry, though it must be said that all Adam’s comments are general in nature and he encourages all businesses to speak to their accountants for specific advice.

Businesses seeking to qualify to take advantage of the full six months of subsidy, will have to register by the end of this month and, as Adam notes in the podcast, this isn’t something that can be done without some careful thought.

Listen to the first podcast by clicking on the link below:

Episode 101: COVID-19 + government stimulus + Australian breeding

Listen to the second podcast by clicking on the link below:

Episode 102: JobKeeper

The Government’s information on JobKeeper can be found at the link below:

JobKeeper Government Information

*The podcast has been published across several different hosting platforms for your convenience.

COVID-19 And Your Business

The Government has released a number of support measures to assist businesses and individuals during this COVID-19 crisis. Please see below for some useful links and information:

Support for Businesses Fact Sheets:

View all Fact Sheets here

JobKeeper Payment

Under the JobKeeper Payment, businesses impacted by the Coronavirus will be able to access a subsidy from the Government to continue paying their employees. Affected employers will be able to claim a fortnightly payment of $1,500 per eligible employee from 30 March 2020, for a maximum period of 6 months.

Read more here

SME Guarantee Scheme:

The Government is working with the banks to support $40 billion of new lending to small and medium sized businesses.

Under the Scheme, the Government is guaranteeing 50 per cent of new loans issued by eligible lenders to SME’s.

This $40 billion Scheme will provide loans of up to $250,000 for up to 3 years for a business with a turnover of less than $50 million dollars. No repayments will be required for the first six months. These will be unsecured loans and they will help build a bridge for small and medium sized businesses to the other side of the coronavirus.

Read more here

For a full summary of what banks are doing during the COVID-19 crisis:

Read here

Support for Individuals & Households Fact Sheets:

View all Fact Sheets here

Coronavirus Supplement Payment:

The temporary Coronavirus Supplement will be an extra $550 a fortnight payment on top of current income support payments such as Jobseeker Payment, Youth Allowance, Austudy for students and apprentices, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance, and Special Benefit.

Permanent employees who have been stood down or who have lost their jobs will likely be eligible for the supplement (there is still some eligibility criteria in place).

Casual staff and sole traders whose hours have been cut can also access the Coronavirus Supplement if they find themselves earning less than $1,075 a fortnight.

The Government has extended the usual eligibility criteria for Jobseeker and Youth Allowance payments, and asset tests and waiting periods have been waived, to allow more people to access these payments during the COVID-19 crisis.

Claiming the Coronavirus Supplement:

If people are already receiving one of the welfare payments listed above, they don’t actually have to do anything. Services Australia will automatically pay the Coronavirus Supplement to eligible recipients each fortnight.

If they are not currently receiving welfare, they will need to apply.

The first step is to create a myGov account and then register intent to claim. If eligible, payments will be backdated to this date.

Step by step how to create a myGov account:

View here

How to register you intention to claim a Centrelink payment:

View here

For all Government resources regarding COVID-19:

View here

Industry Guidelines For COVID-19

Dear Breeder, 
As you are all well aware these are challenging times for the thoroughbred industry, as well as Australian society.
As we deal with the ongoing issues from the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Thoroughbred Breeders Australia has prepared some guidelines that may assist your planning and preparedness for an outbreak of the virus on your farm.

Please click here to view the guidelines.
The guidelines are recommendations only and given the rapidly changing situation these may need to be revised in light of future developments.

I can also assure you that TBA is having ongoing conversations with the Federal Government, with the aim that the breeding industry is given consideration when policies that may impact on our activities are being developed.
We are also in discussion with Inglis and Magic Millions about plans for the upcoming sales season.
If you should need any further information please feel free to contact me directly.
We wish you well in these difficult times,
Tom Reilly and the team at TBA