Some of the unsung heroes of the Australian racing and breeding industry will be recognised and celebrated at the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards.
This year’s awards ceremony – an initiative of Thoroughbred Breeders Australia and Racing Australia and sponsored by global racing and breeding operation Godolphin – is in Sydney on Friday when the winners of the respective categories are announced.
There are two finalists for each of seven categories – Leadership, Horsemanship, Dedication to Breeding, Dedication to Racing, Administration and Ancillary, Thoroughbred Care and Welfare, and Newcomer.
One of the winners is also chosen for an overall Thoroughbred Excellence Award.
Along with a trophy, winners of six of the seven categories receive $10,000 with another $3000 awarded to their employer to share among staff, while the runners-up receive $1000.
The winner of the Newcomer award receives $5000 and a trip to Dubai.
Prominent trainer Tony McEvoy’s Flemington stable foreman Michael Shepherdson is proud to be one of the two finalists for the Dedication To Racing Award, having been nominated by McEvoy.
“It’s a huge thrill just to be nominated, and also to be nominated by Tony,” Shepherdson said.
“I’m very excited and chuffed.
“Obviously a lot of hard work goes into it. You never really expect much but it’s a good opportunity.
“The prize money would be nice, but it is more so just to have that award on your CV would be even more special.
“It’s not something you really look for but you’d be pretty chuffed to take it home, I reckon.”
Steve Adams, Flemington foreman for trainer Anthony Freedman, is also a finalist in the category.
Adams was runner-up in the Dedication To Racing category last year when it was won by Joe Agresta.
“I’m not going to get too carried away,” Shepherdson said.
“Steve would be a worthy winner himself.”
Shepherdson, 38, has worked full-time in the industry for just over two decades and been part of the McEvoy stable for seven years, firstly at Angaston in his native South Australia before becoming the trainer’s Flemington foreman just over four years ago.
The Melbourne stable now has around 70 horses.
“When we first came over we had four and it’s grown to 70, so I’ve been able to grow with it which has been great,” Shepherdson said.
Leadership: Simon Johnson (Godolphin) and David White (Vinery Stud)
Horsemanship: Warren Sutton (McEvoy Mitchell Racing) and Nigel Bentley (Arrowfield Stud)
Dedication to Breeding: Stephanie Mitchell (Mungrup Stud) and David Merrick (Widden Stud)
Dedication to Racing: Michael Shepherdson (McEvoy Mitchell Racing) and Steve Adams (Anthony Freedman Racing)
Administration and Ancillary: Cecilia O’Gorman (TBA) and Susan Willis (Yulong Investments)
Thoroughbred Care and Welfare: Fiona McIntyre (Fiona McIntyre Equine) and Lindy Thewlis (Self Employed)
Newcomer: Alyssa Pickles (Kitchwin Hills Stud) and Talia Cranfield (Godolphin).