They all started closer to the bottom of the racing ladder than the top, and they have all graduated to a level that makes them indispensable to the operation of one of Australia’s biggest industries.
Johan Petzer, the Chairman of Stewards, Thoroughbred Racing South Australia and the Chairman of the Awards judging panel is a big supporter of the awards.
“The GSSSA, now in its fifth year, is not only a fantastic initiative supported by Godolphin, Racing Australia and Thoroughbred Breeders Australia, but it provides great encouragement and opportunity for our participants. It rewards the talent, dedication and commitment of those in our vibrant racing and breeding industry,” said Petzer.
The 14 finalists in the 2019 Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards, are also members of the largely unseen and unheralded sections of Australia’s thoroughbred racing and breeding industry.
They are people like Lindy Thewlis, a self-confessed “nutty lady” who has been in racing for close to 50 years and who broke down and cried when told she was a finalist in the Thoroughbred Care and Welfare category.
“It was a huge surprise, I couldn’t believe it when I was told I was a finalist,” she said.
Thewlis’ first job in racing was riding work for the late George Hanlon at Epsom as a teenager. She began caring for old or injured racehorses when she was 16 and has been at it ever since.
“At the moment I have 102 horses on our property. I look after them because they deserve it and because I love it.”
“I don’t care whether I win an award or not, it’s just wonderful to have what I do recognised.”
On the racing side, Warren Sutton, who along with Arrowfield Stud’s Nigel Bentley, is a finalist in the Horsemanship category, is as vital to the success of the Tony McEvoy stable as any member of the team.
“I am continually inspired by Warren,” McEvoy says.
“My results over the past three years, particularly with two-year-olds, are testament to those horses being educated by Warren who I believe to be one of the most accomplished horsemen in Australia.”
For his part, Sutton is delighted merely to be nominated.
“For someone like Tony to think enough of me to put me forward for this award is fantastic,” he says.
“I’m so grateful to him and to Godolphin and the organisers to be acknowledged.”
The McEvoy team is also represented by its Melbourne foreman Michael Shepherdson, a finalist in the Dedication to Racing Award.
In the same category, Steve Adams from Anthony Freedman Racing is another who has spent all but a handful of his 21 years in racing in one of the country’s most successful stables.
Colleague, Brad Taylor, nominated Adams in acknowledgment of the entire stable’s recognition of him.
“Steve has devoted his life to racing and has been instrumental in the careers of the stable’s horses and its staff,” Taylor said.
Adams is grateful for the recognition, at the same time displaying the modesty common to all finalists.
“We are in the engine room of racing and breeding and to be recognised by this fantastic initiative is amazing.”
The judging panel was again impressed with the outstanding quality of the nominations received this year. Petzer said: “There is no doubt about the quality of the nominees for 2019, which made the task of determining the winners a difficult one for the judging panel.”
The Stud and Stable Staff Awards are sponsored by Godolphin in Australia, the UK, Ireland, France and the US and are staged in Australia by Racing Australia and Thoroughbred Breeders Australia.
The awards offer cash and trophies to both the winners and runners-up in seven categories with the winner of the Newcomer award also receiving a trip to Dubai.
One of the winners is also chosen for an overall Thoroughbred Excellence Award.
The finalists are:
Leadership – Simon Johnson (Godolphin) and David White (Vinery Stud);
Horsemanship – Warren Sutton (McEvoy Mitchell Racing) and Nigel Bentley (Arrowfield Stud);
Dedication to Breeding – Stephanie Mitchell (Mungrup Stud) and David Merrick (Widden Stud);
ATC Dedication to Racing – Michael Shepherdson (McEvoy Mitchell Racing) and Steve Adams (Anthony Freedman Racing);
MRC Foundation Administration and Ancillary – Cecilia O’Gorman (TBA) and Susan Willis (Yulong Investments);
TABCORP Thoroughbred Care and Welfare – Fiona McIntyre (Fiona McIntrye Equine) and Lindy Thewlis (Self Employed);
Newcomer – Alyssa Pickles (Kitchwin Hills Stud) and Talia Cranfield (Godolphin).
The winners will be announced at an award ceremony at Royal Randwick, NSW on September 6.