Racecourse Groundstaff Awards 2017 – The Winners

The Racecourse Association (RCA) is delighted to announce the winners of the Racecourse Groundstaff Awards for 2017.

Sponsored once again by Pitchcare, Watts Fences and Fornells, the award winners were decided by an industry wide panel made up of representatives from the RCA, Professional Jockeys Association (PJA), British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and National Trainers Federation (NTF).

The winning teams are deemed to have demonstrated the highest levels of commitment, innovation and excellence across the year.

As well as winners for the Dual Purpose, Flat and Jumps categories there is also a Special Merit Award and Lifetime Achievement Award. Out of the winners, a Groundstaff Champion will be chosen and crowned at the 2017 RCA Showcase Awards on 16 November at Newbury Racecourse.

The winners, with judges’ comments, are as follows:

Dual-Purpose

Winner – Leicester

Runners Up – Newbury and Sandown

Leicester have continuously produced an excellent racing surface and they are an example to all given the resources they have compared with the number of fixtures they host and runners they attract. They deserve particular credit for running on a dual-purpose Flat and Hurdle track all year round.

Flat

Winner – Newmarket Racecourses

Runner up – Nottingham

Newmarket have shown huge improvement and development in 2017 on what was already a top class racing surface. The number of people moving through their ranks highlights a commitment to Continuing Professional Development, showcased most effectively by Alan Harterley being sent to Flemington Racecourse to learn more about international practices of turf husbandry.

Jump

Winner – Warwick

Runners Up – Uttoxeter and Ludlow

The effort and expertise required to integrate the Flat course into the chase course at Warwick helps them stand out in this category and this outstanding achievement will benefit the course hugely in years to come. As well as investment in equipment through the replacement of six furlongs of running rail, they have shown a commitment to people which is above and beyond what is required.

Special Merit Award

Winner – Goodwood

What the team at Goodwood achieved during the Qatar Goodwood Festival was nothing short of remarkable. The dedication involved in keeping the track raceable and the racecourse generally presentable given the extremes of weather was immensely impressive and makes them a standout choice for this award.

Lifetime Achievement

Maurice Crooks – Haydock Park 

Maurice has been a huge part of the team at Haydock Park for many years and played a key role in the reconstruction of the track from 2008 to 2013. As well as his work at Haydock Park his work within the wider industry as a major contributor to the Racecourse Association Head Groundsman/Clerk of the Course forums is invaluable. He also plays a crucial mentoring role within the Jockey Club assiting their research and development.

Reaction from the sponsors, RCA, BHA, PJA and NTF

Caroline Davies, RCA Racecourse Services Director, said: “We are absolutely thrilled for all the winners who have demonstrated an exceptional level of commitment and excellence across the year.

“Our Racecourse Groundstaff are always faced with a unique set of challenges either through the amount of racing they have to prepare for or the varying weather that is thrown at them. All the winners have shown tremendous ability to produce world class facilities for our Horsemen so well done to all the winners and we look forward to crowning a champion at Showcase 2017.”

John Richards from sponsor Pitchcare, said, “In the last few year, there has been a noticeable improvement in the standards produced, and particularly at provincial racecourses. The are now producing quality racing surfaces and course facilities which are very much on par with the higher profile tracks. It’s very impressive.”

Richard Linley, BHA Head of Racecourse Inspectors, said: “We are continually impressed by the high-quality level of racing surfaces produced across the country and choosing the winners was not an easy task. We would like to thank all the racecourse teams for their tireless work to ensure the safest possible racing conditions even in the most difficult of circumstances.”

Dale Gibson, PJA Executive Director, said: “We are hugely grateful to the Racecourse Groundstaff who work all hours of the day to make sure that every jockey can go to work in the safest possible environment.

“This year we have seen some truly remarkable weather conditions, combined with a demanding fixture list, therefore showcasing the Groundstaff teams knowledge, hard work and expertise which have been second to none. Congratulations to all the nominated staff and winners.”

George Noad, NTF, said: “The quality of this year’s entries have made it very difficult to pick winners. However the awards have gone to Groundstaff who have demonstrated a consistently high standard of turf management and continued professional development. The hard work undertaken by the Groundstaff throughtout the year is very important for the safety of all the sports participants and they deserve our thanks.”