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The top three grooms in Britain can look forward to relaxing away from their charges during luxurious breaks, which are being offered as part of the British Equestrian Federation’s new Kuster BEF Groom Award 2004.

The Kuster BEF Groom Award was launched earlier this year to recognise the vital contribution which grooms make to the equestrian industry. Originally the competition had only a top prize available, but the award’s sponsor, Frank Kuster from Grange Hotels, has now decided to offer a further two prizes.

The winning groom and their guest will receive a luxurious holiday to the beautiful Italian city of Naples, including business class flights and two nights in the London Grange City Hotel.

The second prize winner will be treated to a luxury weekend break at the Grange City Hotel, London and will also receive £300 of high street shopping vouchers, which can be spent in more than 200 shops.

The third placed groom will also enjoy a luxurious weekend break at the Grange Hotel City, London and will receive £150 of high street shopping vouchers.

Entries for the award close on 22 November and can be put forward by an employer, friend, family member or by the groom themselves by completing the nomination form that can be downloaded from the BEF website at www.bef.co.uk. Nomination forms can also be requested by calling (tel: 02476 698877).

Six finalists and their guests will be invited to attend the final day judging, which includes a champagne lunch courtesy of Grange Hotels, on 6 December 2004 at the Bracknell Grange Hotel. Judges Liz Edgar, Nicky Barrett and Zanie Tanswell will question the finalists about their passion for their job and their depth of knowledge via a short and informal interview on the day.

Frank Kuster will present the winning groom with a stunning bronze, designed by Tim Nathan, at the British Horse Foundation Awards Dinner on 8 January 2005.

The BEF’s volunteer representative for grooms, Lucy Katan, who was instrumental in the setting up the award, says: “This is a revolution in the horse industry. I don’t think any other country has anything similar. This is just another example of how the BEF are taking the issue of grooms seriously.”

Join Horse & Hound’s NAGS

Membership of the National Association of Grooms and Students (NAGS) is free to all bona fide grooms and students. NAGS is sponsored by training provider KEITS, which offers Modern Apprenticeships, for those aged 16-25, as well as work-based training in equine, animal care and agricultural businesses.

Benefits of being a NAGS member include: Horse & Hound subscription at £1 per copy, £3 discount voucher on a sack of Blue Chip Dynamic, 10% discount on Splash Equestrian equipment and clothing, no P&P charges from Equestrian Vision mail order and eligibility for NAGS-only competitions and offers.

If you are interested in becoming a member, write to: NAGS, Room 2018, Kings Reach Tower, Stamford Street, London SE1 9LS (tel: 020 7261 6993), e-mail: nags@ipcmedia.com , or click here to download an application form in PDF format.

And remember, the club is open to all students, not just those studying for an equine qualification.