The past week, to 10 days in Sydney has again served to illustrate the vast depth of Australia’s thoroughbred industry.
Chautauqua one week, Winx the next. Nearly $20 million in prizemoney.
Smack in the middle, a yearling sale that yielded over $100 million for vendors.
Two yearlings alone fetched $4.9 million between them and now share ownership with leading players from Dubai, Ireland, the United States and China.
‘Healthy’ doesn’t cover it. But while the spotlight focuses so brightly on the racetrack and sale ring during such important dates on our calendar, it’s also an imperative to acknowledge those behind the scenes … the unsung heroes that toil 24/7 to put others front and centre.
There’s no comparison between mucking out boxes in the middle of winter and drinking Moet on a warm Saturday afternoon, but fortunately world leader, Godolphin, has initiated the very popular annual, Stud and Stable Staff Awards: the 2017 nominations for which close at 12am on Sunday 16 April.
There are six award categories – ‘Leadership’, ‘Horsemanship’, ‘Administration’, ‘Thoroughbred Care and Welfare’, ‘Dedication to Breeding’ and ‘Dedication to Racing’ – each carrying a $10,000 prize (not to mention a cracking trophy) – with an overall ‘Thoroughbred Excellence Award’.
Tom Reilly, CEO of Thoroughbred Breeders Australia which co-sponsors the awards, believes such acknowledgement is a tremendous initiative and long overdue.
“It’s something that all studs and stables should get right behind,” Reilly enthuses. “People in this industry often do what they do for the sheer love of the thoroughbred. To them, strapping a horse at a country race meet is just as important as leading one around at Randwick. The same goes for those who are happy to double check a broodmare at 3am … it’s just part and parcel of what they do.
“So, it’s great to be able to recognise the person in your stable, or at your stud, who goes above and beyond, day in and day out. As the saying goes, ‘be a mate and nominate’.”
Fortunately, industry leaders are already on board and underscore the importance of recognising employees ‘love’ for what they do. Indeed, it’s a recurring theme.
“You sit back and look at what these guys do … they must really love the animal,” 2017 Golden Slipper winning trainer, Gary Portelli.
“It’s a labour of love for these people but it is long hours and a lot of work,” from Yarraman Park’s Harry Mitchell.
“It’s totally a job that you must love the animal, the industry is very demanding,” says Mark Newnham, who was honoured with the ‘Thoroughbred Excellence Award’ in 2015 when stable foreman for Gai Waterhouse and has since struck out on his own, training his first winner last year and capturing his initial Group success when exciting 2YO, Diamond Tathagata won this year’s Skyline Stakes.
Who knows how much the Godolphin Award propelled him toward his training goal?
Don’t forget … nominations close this Saturday night and you can download a form at https://www.studandstablestaffawards.com.au