The Racecourse Association (RCA), in association with Pitchcare, ALS and Watt Fences, has announced the top racecourses in each category of the 2013 Racecourse Groundstaff Awards. The annual awards celebrate the hard work of racecourse groundstaff teams across the country who maintain and develop the racing surface.
Racecourses were judged in three categories; Jump, Flat and Dual Purpose, with Kelso, Chester and Leicester coming out on top in their respective categories.
For the first time this year, the announcement of the Groundstaff Champion, issued to a single racecourse team, will take place at the RCA Showcase & Awards at Lingfield Park Racecourse on 14th November, where excellence and innovation across all areas of racecourse life is celebrated.
Musselburgh Racecourse was awarded a discretionary Merit Award by the sponsors - Pitchcare, ALS and Watt Fences - following the manner in which the groundstaff team supported each other in dealing with a tragic accident that took place at the course earlier this year.
The judging panel consisted of representatives from the RCA, British Horseracing Authority, National Trainers Federation and Professional Jockey's Association.
Caroline Davies, RCA Racecourse Services Director, commented; "we are delighted to announce Kelso, Chester and Leicester as the winners of the 2013 Racecourse Groundstaff Awards and look forward to the announcement of the overall Champion at the RCA Showcase & Awards.
By linking with the Award ceremonies for the first time this year, we are able to promote the good work of these teams even further within the overall celebration of excellence and innovation on British racecourses."
The Groundstaff teams at each of the winning racecourses worked, often in difficult weather conditions, to overcome a number of issues, such as Chester covering the entire track for a period over the winter; modernising the design of the fences and producing additional fresh ground at Kelso; and Leicester re-cambering four of the bends on their flat and hurdle course, all of which were appreciated by trainers, jockeys and the BHA.
Hazel Peplinski, Clerk of the Course at Kelso said; "from a groundsman's perspective, Kelso has had an extremely challenging 12-18 months; what with the new course layout, new fences and unprecedented weather conditions. However, Brian, Logan, Davie, Alastair and Connor have answered every call magnificently and retained their sense of humour throughout - they truly deserve this award."
Jimmy Stevenson, Clerk of the Course at Leicester commented: ''we are absolutely delighted as a team to win such a prestigious award. It is welcoming to know that people within the industry recognise the tremendous amount of hard work that it takes to maintain our high standards here at Leicester, when we have such a busy fixture list'.
PJA Industry Liaison Officer Dale Gibson stated; "racecourses and their hard working staff battle consistently against the elements to produce a quality racing surface that professionals and horses require. Weather forecasts aren't always accurate, meaning groundstaff need to use local knowledge, experience and dedication to carry out their role. Once again, the standard was extremely high from all those who submitted applications. The PJA applaud all who work on racecourse ground, not just the winners."
Richard Linley, Senior Inspector of Courses at BHA, said; "again it was an extremely difficult task to select the winners of the Groundstaff Awards. The knowledge and expertise in preparing racecourses again demonstrates the dedication of the groundstaff to their working lives."
On behalf of the sponsors, John Richards of Pitchcare added; "as always, the judges faced the unenviable task of selecting just one winner for each of the categories. This year, we had a record number of entries and I know the Flat category, in particular, resulted in much discussion and deliberation because of the large number of high quality contenders. My congratulations to all the winners, and also my thanks to the judges for their thoroughness and fairness in making these difficult decisions."