The Godolphin awards attracted a bumper crop of entries, and following some initial whittling down the winners in each category will be chosen from the final 10 nominees. They will all meet the judging panel on Sunday 26 February, where the winners will be chosen, along with the overall Employee of the Year. All the finalists will also attend the awards ceremony itself the following evening, where champion jockey Paul Hanagan will present winners with their awards.
There are specific categories for stud staff and for riders and grooms, as well as three more generic categories: the David Nicholson newcomer award; a high achiever award; and a dedication to racing award. With representatives from both large and small stables included, the awards promise a degree of egalitarianism that isn't always found within racing. As usual, Brough Scott will chair the judging panel, supported by Dinah Nicholson, Ian Balding, David Redvers, Judith Allen and Pat Eddery. They have the job whittling down each group of 10 to three finalists.
Robin Mounsey, speaking for the BHA, said, "The calibre of the nominees was exceptionally high yet again this year, and our team face the near impossible task of deciding between nominees who all show the utmost enthusiasm, dedication and talent in their work every single day of the year. Whilst it was no easy feat, we are satisfied that the ten long listed nominees in each category are some of the true stars of the sport, and pass our sincere congratulations on to all of those nominated."
Last year there was a real struggle to generate entries for the Irish Stable Staffs Association awards. Just two weeks before nominations closed only one entry form had been submitted. The Irish awards are done on a geographical basis, and the shortage of entries in some locations has led to a bit of a rethink this year.
The county groups have been reduced from six to five, with an award for a groom in a Flat yard and in a National Hunt yard from each of the areas. In addition there is a new category for stud groom, although there will be only one prize awarded for this group.
Bernard Caldwell, head of the Irish Stable Staff Association said, "We feel this is a great way to recognise the contribution stud grooms make to the industry and recognising their participation."
The Irish awards will be presented on 3 March at a dinner dance in Newbridge, Co Kildare.