Overall Groundstaff Champion to be announced at the RCA Showcase & Awards, 17 November at Doncaster Racecourse
Ayr Racecourse receives Merit Award from the sponsors, Pitchcare, Fornells and Watt Fences
Seamus Buckley from Goodwood Racecourse wins Neil Wyatt Lifetime Achievement Award
The Racecourse Association (RCA), in association with Pitchcare, Fornells and Watt Fences, is delighted to announce the winners of the 2016 Racecourse Groundstaff Awards. The annual Awards celebrate the hard work and dedication of Groundstaff across the country who consistently ensure the highest quality racing surfaces.
In the Jump category the judging panel recognised the work of the Cartmel Racecourse Groundstaff to widen the course, improve both drainage and irrigation, and develop other areas of the racecourse to the benefit of horses, participants and racegoers.
In the Flat category winners Brighton Racecourse gained praise for improvements in a number of areas, particularly the racing surface, including the management of vehicle movement on the track, improvements to road crossings, and innovative turf management practices. Judges also highlighted the commitment to training and CPD among the Groundstaff team.
In the Dual-Purpose category Ascot Racecourse were rewarded for their innovative approach to research and progression. Improvements to the Unsaddling Enclosure have helped to create a more practical and safe area, while the introduction of new turf management practices and alterations to irrigation practices has increased the quality of the racing surface.
One of the winning racecourse teams will be crowned overall Racecourse Groundstaff Champions for 2016 at the RCA Showcase Awards on 17 November.
The Judging Panel were delighted to recognise Goodwood Racecourse's Seamus Buckley with the Neil Wyatt Lifetime Achievement Award. Having worked in racing for 50 years the judges commended Seamus on his contribution across a number of areas of the sport.
They particularly highlighted his commitment and dedication to providing consistently high standards, his involvement in driving forward innovation for the benefit of the sport and his support of training for Racecourse Groundstaff. The Panel commented that Seamus is a true gentlemen and a great example to anyone training to be a Clerk of the Course.
"I feel humbled and honoured in receiving this Award," commented Seamus, "and would like to thank everyone who has put me forward to receive such an accolade. I would also like to thank all the people I have worked with throughout my career."
"I feel privileged to have known Neil Wyatt all my racing life - he is such a wonderful man and has put so much into racing over many years and I look forward to receiving the Award from him."
In addition to the categories above, the team at Ayr Racecourse was awarded a discretionary Merit Award by the sponsors Pitchcare and Watt Fences, to recognise their community engagement programme that provides training and employment within the local community. This process was led and managed by the Groundstaff team, who developed their own training, coaching and mentoring skills as part of the process.
Caroline Davies, RCA Racecourse Services Director, said: "The hard work and dedication of Groundstaff across Great Britain's racecourses ensures exceptional facilities and outstanding racing surfaces at every level of the sport.
"It is always very pleasing to reward those that have gone above and beyond the standard expected so well done to the teams at Cartmel, Brighton and Ascot as the winners of the 2016 Racecourse Groundstaff Awards. We are now looking forward to the announcement of the overall Champion at the RCA Showcase & Awards in November."
"We would also like to take the opportunity to thank Pitchcare and Watt Fences for their continued support of these awards."
BHA Senior Inspector of Courses, Richard Linley, said: "Groundstaff around the country have yet again raised the bar and demonstrated massive dedication to their work.
Whilst it would be wonderful to reward all of them for their contribution to the industry, there can only be three winners, but it certainly doesn't mean the efforts elsewhere around the country have gone unnoticed."
ARC Racing Operations Director Jon Pullin said, "We're delighted that the teams at Brighton and Worcester have had their great work over the last year recognised. Both teams are led by very capable Clerks of the Course in their first years in the role in George Hill and Libby O'Flaherty.
Brighton and Worcester offer their own unique challenges as racecourses, and the Groundstaff teams have been working tirelessly to make improvements to the racing surface and ensure that they offer as consistent ground as possible.
"Many thanks also to the sponsors of these prestigious awards, who are fantastic supporters of all racecourse Groundstaff and everyone who works in the sports turf industry."
George Noad, National Trainers Federation Racing Industry Executive, said: "The quality of this year's entries made it hard to pick winners. The awards have gone to Groundstaff who have shown continued professionalism and have provided consistently high standards. Groundstaff who give the racing surface such a high priority throughout the year deserve our thanks."
Ascot Racecourse Head Groundsman, Reon Sanford, said: "It's a great thrill to have won this award, the grounds team worked particularly hard in preparing the track in advance of and during Royal Ascot this year."
"This effort was rewarded when, despite a really wet June leading into the Royal Meeting, the racing surface coped with the rain well, it did not cut up and wear much and the racing was excellent despite the track being slower than normal."
Chris Stickels, Clerk of the Course, added: "The Grounds team here work hard throughout the year, and are always looking into new ideas and technology to improve what they do. I would like to thank the Judges and Sponsors of this award for their recognition of this."
Cartmel Racecourse Managing Director, Jonathan Garratt, said: "The entire team here, including the two permanent members of our Groundstaff, the seasonal staff who have assisted us throughout the Summer and the administrative team in the office, will be incredibly proud to have been recognised in this way."
"We've been really pleased to receive so many positive comments from trainers this season - the result of lots of hard work by a dedicated Groundstaff team led in friendly, but determined, fashion by Gary Sharp, our Head Groundsman."
"I should also pay tribute to Anthea Morshead, Clerk of the Course at Cartmel, Kelso and York who works tirelessly in support of us all."
On behalf of the sponsors, John Richards of Pitchcare, said: "As ever, the judging panel had a very difficult job to do but, in the end, there was a general consensus that Ascot, Brighton and Cartmel were worthy winners of their respective categories. As sponsors, Watt Fences, Fornells and Pitchcare now have the challenge of selecting just one of these outstanding groundstaff teams as the overall winner, with the announcement being made at the Showcase Awards at Doncaster racecourse in November"