Salisbury, Ayr and Market Rasen were the big winners as the results of the 2010 Neil Wyatt Racecourse Groundstaff Awards were announced.
Salisbury was the winner in the Best Flat Racecourse Category, whilst the Dual Purpose award went to Ayr Racecourse and Market Rasen Racecourse received the award for best Jump track.
Members of the Judging Panel took the opportunity to praise the four All Weather Tracks, Kempton Park, Lingfield Park, Southwell and Wolverhampton, and to present them with Special Merit Awards for their efforts to ensure racing continued to take place during the periods of extreme cold and snow at both the beginning and end of 2010.
Judging of the awards took place on Thursday 20 January 2011 and the panel comprised representatives of the National Trainers Federation and Professional Jockeys' Association, with support from the BHA Inspectors of Courses. The Awards, organised by the Racecourse Association and sponsored by Pitchcare.com in association with ALS and Fornells, are in their fifteenth year and recognise the achievements of racecourse groundstaff.
Richard Linley, Senior BHA Inspector of Courses, said: "The vagaries of the British climate have yet again challenged Groundsmen around the country during 2010, the huge effort and commitment demonstrated by those Groundsmen to their Racecourses never ceases to amaze me. It must never be forgotten that it can be just as difficult to manage sports turf in the height of summer as well as in the depths of winter, swapping frost covers for irrigation equipment and in each case trying to manage the expectations of all the participants and customers. There are only three Official winners, but there are many winners in my eyes, and appropriate this year that the All Weather Courses are recognised for their significant contribution to the industry during 2010 with special Merit Awards."
Rupert Arnold, of the National Trainers Federation, said: "Reading the nominations I was struck by the amount of good work going on around the racecourses by very dedicated teams of groundstaff. Much of this is unseen by those outside racecourses and the great value of the Neil Wyatt Groundstaff Awards is they bring the outstanding examples to a wider audience"
Dale Gibson from the Professional Jockeys' Association said "We have all appreciated the hard work and commitment that Groundstaff put in day in, day out. Recently the severe weather has made their job harder. The PJA recognize that, and in our eyes the majority of courses are all winners. The four safety officers submitted their nominations to those tracks that they thought were outstanding, which all received recognition"
Jeremy Martin, Clerk of the Course at Salisbury Racecourse said, "The groundstaff are very pleased to have won this award for the second time in three years. Consistent ground is very important and we move the rail between every race meeting to ensure horses race on the best available turf. The staff's preparation of our bend, one of the tightest in the country, also gets regular approval from jockeys. We will ensure we keep up the good work in 2011 and beyond.
Emma Marley, Clerk of Course at Ayr Racecourse, said, "We are overjoyed to be voted winners of the Neil Wyatt Dual Purpose Racecourse Award for 2010. The Grounds Team have worked remarkably hard over the past year to achieve wondrous results with the racing surface and to restore confidence within the racing community. Ayr Racecourse Directors have, and continue to be, extremely supportive of our initiatives and have invested significantly to enhance the racing surface and introduce portable fences. We would like to thank all Trainers, Jockeys and Owners who have supported us over the year and who have made this industry recognition possible."
Sulekha Varma, Clerk of the Course at Market Rasen Racecourse said "The small team at Market Rasen have worked tirelessly in recent years to improve the racing surface, under the guidance of Head Groundsman, Steve Bakin. This has been especially noticeable in the rise of the racecourse to one of the country's leading Summer Jumping venues. The quality of horses running Market Rasen and their subsequent achievements is testament to the ongoing improvements, instigated while Nick Patton was Clerk of the Course and continued in the past year. Being awarded the Neil Wyatt Groundstaff Award for the Best Jump Racecourse in 2010 is a huge honour and thoroughly deserved by the entire team."
John Richards, Operations Director of Pitchcare commented, "The freezing weather conditions at the beginning and end of 2010 put an unusual and exceptional strain on the racing industry. The outstanding work of the groundstaff teams at the four All Weather Tracks enabled racing to continue against overwhelming odds. For this reason, it was agreed that the teams at these courses deserve thanks and recognition for their outstanding efforts. Each course will be receiving a special Merit Award."
For further information contact Caroline Davies at the RCA on 01344 873536 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Winners and Runners Up for 2010 are as follows:
Flat - Winner Salisbury
Runners Up Goodwood
Dual Purpose - Winner Ayr
Runner Up Southwell
Jump - Winner Market Rasen
Runner Up Kelso
Merit Award - Kempton Park, Lingfield Park, Southwell and Wolverhampton Racecourses