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Take a bow Simon Johnson, ‘as a motivator in constantly leading your team toward excellence,’ you receive the Australian Stud and Stable Staff Award for Leadership in 2020.

In nominating Simon Johnson as ‘the person these Awards were created for’ Kylie Mills stated “Simon is always fostering the careers of his staff, and always encouraging.”

As Assistant Manager at Godolphin’s Woodlands Stud in the Hunter Valley, Simon grew up with horses in South Australia and see it as a duty to pass on whatever he can to his staff.

“We have an obligation to give everyone who comes into the industry and who show a willingness to learn, the opportunity to advance themselves,” said Simon. “I get great satisfaction from sharing.”

Runner-up in the Leadership category is Michael Stephenson of McEvoy-Mitchell Racing, with trainer Tony McEvoy stating “our accomplishments in Victoria are a direct reflection of Michael’s dedication.”

“My Flemington stable has doubled in size in each of the past two years, and Michael has made the entire process seamless,” said Tony McEvoy with transferring Michael from his Adelaide stables.

As Flemington foreman Michael Stephenson was runner-up last year in the Dedication to Racing section, with Simon Johnson also being a previous Leadership finalist.

In sponsoring the Stud and Stable Staff Awards Godolphin’s Vincent Cox emotionally stated “when a horse wins at the highest level, or a maiden in the country we all know it’s just part of the story.”

“Before passing the winning line, there have been countless hours of hard work, often in tough conditions, carried out by those who are generally unrecognised beyond their own studs and yards.”

“Godolphin is a global sponsor of these Awards in the UK, Ireland, France, America and in Australia. In 2020 we had a record number of nominations and the standard was of the highest calibre.”

Racing Australia and Thoroughbred Breeders Australia conduct the Stud and Stable Staff Awards to recognise and reward those who work in all areas of the thoroughbred racing and breeding industry.

The winners of the five principal category’s each receive a $10,000 prize plus trophy, with an additional $3,000 for each employer to be share amongst staff. Each runner-up receives a $1,000 prize.

The Newcomer award winner receives $5,000 and trophy, plus $3,000 for the employer to share amongst fellow workers. The runner-up receives $1,000.

The MRC Foundation sponsored Administration and Ancillary Services award went Sarah Moran, who as Personal Assistant to Victorian trainer Robbie Griffiths knowing what’s ‘smooth and efficient.’

Sarah’s runner-up was IRT Operations Manager Testuhito Hirose, who originally came into thoroughbreds looking for sports management with only seeing Horlicks and Better Loosen Up win the Japan Cup.

The Dedicated to Racing award, sponsored by the Australian Turf Club, went to Michael Hurry of the Victorian Racing Club ahead of Brett Killion of Chris Waller Racing.

Both men have been in the industry since they were boys, with today ‘Mick’ serving as training track supervisor at Flemington and ‘Lofty’ being Brisbane foreman for Chris Waller Racing.

In the battle of the heavyweights it was Martin Bruechert of Coolmore who ‘got the nod’ over Godolphin’s Chris Cooper for the Magic Millions sponsored Dedicated to Breeding award.

Described as the ‘consummate horseman’ Martin would agree with Chris Cooper in saying “so many people working on farms and in stables are never noticed, so it’s great when it happens.”

In Mandy Radecker in being head track rider for Brisbane trainer Michael Lakey, both she and Wendy Smith ‘rank as two of the finest horsewomen in Australia,’ with Mandy a former champion apprentice.

Being runner-up to Mandy in the Horseman category, Wendy Smith is the Yearling Manager at Blue Gum Farm in Victoria, also in charge of the stud’s post-natal care facility.

The Thoroughbred Care and Welfare award went to Jade Willis of JW Equestrian, ahead of Liz Andriske, Spare One Thoroughbreds with both ‘excelling in an industry area that is both sensitive and essential.’

The smiles of Kelly Colledge and Kitchwin Hill’s Alyssa Pickels said in all in being first and second in the Newcomers award, with Kelly ‘stepping up’ when her trainer Brenden Mackay suffered brain cancer.

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