Top grooms from across Britain can now be nominated for the 2006 Kuster BEF Groom Award competition. Nominees must have dedication, stamina and a love of horses, as well as a hunger for success.

“We’re looking for grooms with loyalty to both horses and riders and a desire to improve their skills,” said a spokesperson for the British Equestrian Foundation (BEF). The winner, who will be selected from seven finalists at a final judging day, will be whisked off on a well-deserved holiday to the Swiss mountain resort of Nendaz.

A record number of nominations were received by the BEF for last year’s competition, from Olympic yards to riding stables. Julie Barker, groom to the Burton Hunt, Lincolnshire, took the prestigious Groom Award last year after impressing judges Carl Hester and Chris Saunders. Cash prizes totalling £500 were awarded to two runners-up.

Those who were nominated last year but didn’t win a prize are eligible again this year. Applicants can be put forward by their employer or by themselves, an owner or a friend. Nomination forms, which ask why the applicant deserves the award, including examples, can be downloaded from the BEF website (www.bef.co.uk) and must be submitted by 25 November.

Seven finalists will then be invited to attend informal interviews and a champagne lunch on 20 December. Mike Tucker and Sarah Pidgely, who will form the 2006 panel of judges, will be looking for grooms with a solid depth of knowledge and who demonstrate a true passion for their job.

The top prize of a week’s holiday in the Swiss resort of Nendaz for two people can be taken in either winter or summer, allowing grooms to choose between a thrilling ski holiday or cycling, water sports and walking in summer.

All entries to be sent to: – Kuster BEF Groom Award, British Equestrian Federation, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, CV8 2RN or emailed to info@bef.co.uk.