2008 Neil Wyatt Groundstaff Awards Announced

Press Releasein Equestrian

The winners of the much coveted 2008 Neil Wyatt Racecourse Groundstaff Awards have been announced. It is encouraging for all the groundstaff in the Industry that their work gets recognition via the groundstaff awards, and the RCA are very grateful to the sponsors for supporting these valuable awards.

Award Winner Sponsor
Dual Purpose Racecourse Doncaster Racecourse William Hill
Flat Racecourse Salisbury Racecourse Turf TV

Jump Racecourse
Aintree Racecourse Duralock Fencing Systems

The Committee also agreed two special recognition awards for 2008. The first went to Danny Smith of Goodwood Racecourse, who is retiring in 2009 after 42 years service at the course. The second was given to the groundstaff team at Cheltenham Racecourse for their excellent achievements at the 2008 Cheltenham Festival, and their endeavours to ensure that all races could be staged, despite the abandonment of one day due to high winds

Judging of the awards took place on Tuesday 20 January 2009 and the panel comprised of representatives of the National Trainers Federation and Professional Jockeys' Association, with support from the BHA Course Inspectors. The Awards, organised by the Racecourse Association, are in their thirteenth year and recognise the achievements of racecourse's groundstaff.

Richard Linley, Senior BHA Inspector of Courses, said: "It is encouraging that each year it gets more difficult to select winners. 2008 was a particularly difficult year for many racecourses due to the high rainfall."

Rupert Arnold from the National Trainers Federation said: "The winners of these awards have demonstrated outstanding standards in the condition of the racing surface and general racecourse maintenance and the NTF is delighted to recognise their efforts."

Clare Hazell from the Professional Jockeys' Association said "The Ground staff at the winning tracks work tirelessly to provide the best ground possible which is always well maintained, consistent and safe. They also demonstrate the important quality of openness with all racing professionals and the ability to correct things when necessary. Jockeys appreciate the effort of these unsung heroes and feel it fitting that they are recognised accordingly."

The winners and runners up were delighted to receive the awards and their quotes are detailed below:


Dual Purpose Racecourse - Winner

David Williams, Clerk of the Course, Doncaster Racecourse: 'We are very proud of all our groundstaff as they are all new to the racecourse apart from two. It is proof that their hard work and dedication has paid off particularly as the majority had not set foot on a racecourse until 2007'.

Flat Racecourse - Winner

Jeremy Martin, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course, Salisbury Racecourse: 'The Awards are always hotly contested and with the standards being so high at racecourses now, it is particularly nice to have won. We felt that 2008 had been a good year out on the track, and we will of course look to maintain the standards this season and beyond'.

Jump Racecourse - Winner

Julian Thick, Managing Director, Aintree Racecourse: 'Aintree Racecourse is delighted to win this award for the second time. A real team effort goes in to preparing the race track and this award is testament to the hard work and dedication which is put in over many hours by our team. We are very proud to have won this award again."

Runners Up

Dual Purpose Racecourse - Runner Up

Jimmy Stevenson, Clerk of the Course at Leicester Racecourse, Runner up for the Dual Purpose award: 'We are extremely pleased and proud of our groundstaff team for achieving this. We are a very busy racecourse and it is a credit to all the team as we race twelve months a year. With such an extensive racing programme it is good to see the team's hard work be rewarded'.

Flat Racecourse Runner Up & Special Recognition Award

Seamus Buckley, Clerk of the Course, Goodwood Racecourse: 'I'm absolutely delighted that Danny has received this recognition. He has been a wonderful and dedicated employee, and is a great example to us all, in particular the younger members of the team.

Jump Racecourse - Runner Up

Edward Arkell, Clerk of the Course, Fontwell Park: 'We are thrilled to be awarded for all our staff's hard work. It is good to see that their work has been appreciated'.

Special Commendation Award

Simon Claisse, Director of Racing & Clerk of Course, Cheltenham Racecourse: 'We are delighted to have received this award. It is a credit to the team for all the work they did to make the Festival such a success, especially after the disappointment of losing the Wednesday'.

For further information contact Holly Robarts at the RCA on 01344 873536 or holly.robarts@racecourseassociation.co.uk

Neil Wyatt Racecourse Groundstaff Awards 2008

Dual Purpose Racecourse

Winner: Doncaster Racecourse

The Judging Panel commended the groundstaff team at Doncaster Racecourse for their work during the redevelopment, particularly with regard to the elimination of draw bias on the Flat course, the levelling of the majority of take offs and landings on the Jump course and the rebuilding of all fences. It was noted that the supporting facilities, including the Weighing Room and Stables were also of an excellent standard. The Panel also agreed that throughout the redevelopment, and subsequently the groundstaff team at Doncaster Racecourse communicated consistently with other industry professionals. It was recognised that Doncaster had provided a very high standard of ground conditions throughout 2008.

Runner Up: Leicester Racecourse
The Judging Panel agreed that the small groundstaff team at Leicester Racecourse should be recognised for the significant improvements at the course, and their high standards, produced despite an extensive fixture list and with limited ground available.

Flat Racecourse

Winner: Salisbury Racecourse

The Judging Panel recognised the improvements made by Salisbury Racecourse during 2008, including rubberising both the parade ring and pre parade ring. The team was also commended for their work ensuring that running rail was moved after every race meeting, including overnight during a two day fixture. The Panel commended the proactive attitude of the groundstaff at Salisbury.

Runner Up: Goodwood Racecourse

The Panel agreed that, in addition to continuing to provide consistently excellent standards, the groundstaff team at Goodwood Racecourse should be recognised for their endeavours in re-levelling the pre-parade ring and re-cambering the outer bend. This work was carried out in house by the groundstaff with no assistance from outside contractors.

Jump Racecourse

Winner: Aintree Racecourse

The Panel commended the continued high standards of the groundstaff team at Aintree Racecourse, particularly under the new leadership of Mark Ainsley, Head Groundsman.

Runner Up: Fontwell Park Racecourse

The Panel agreed that the groundstaff at Fontwell Park Racecourse should be recognised for the work that they have done to widen a number of fences to assist in the provision of fresh ground and the widening of the chase course to accommodate this. It was also noted that the hedge along the back straight had been removed to allow more movement in this area.

Special Recognition: Danny Smith, Goodwood Racecourse

The Panel was agreed that special commendation should be given to Danny Smith of Goodwood Racecourse. After 42 years at Goodwood Racecourse, Danny will be retiring in 2009. During his time at the racecourse, Danny has always demonstrated dedication, professionalism and hard work and has been one of the key contributors to the consistently high standards achieved by Goodwood Racecourse.

Special Commendation:
Cheltenham Racecourse

The Panel was agreed that special commendation should be given to the groundstaff team at Cheltenham Racecourse for their excellent achievements at the 2008 Cheltenham Festival, and their endeavours to ensure that all races could be staged, despite the abandonment of one day due to high winds.


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