The manager of a small National Hunt stud has been awarded £40,000 after being been crowned “employee of the year” at the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards.
Jessica Fort (pictured below), stud manager for Dunraven Stud in Wales, was awarded the Godolphin Trophy at a gala evening ceremony at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower in London last night (Monday 23 February).
The awards, run by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), have six categories: leadership, rider/groom, stud staff, dedication to racing, David Nicholson newcomer and administration staff award. There is a total of £120,000 in prize money divided between the winners and runners-up in each category and their yards.
Jessica (pictured above) won a total of £40,000, of which £20,000 will be shared among the staff at the Dunraven Stud in Wales.
Jessica started her career at the Racing School and joined Dunraven Stud 16 years ago, after a bad facial injury ruined a promising apprentice career.
Dunraven is a small National Hunt stud based near Bridgend, standing two stallions, Dr Massini and Vinnie Roe. Jessica is involved in all aspects of work on the stud, including the office administration, stallion handling, foaling throughout the season, breaking in and updating owners.
All 16 finalists were praised by the judges for their talent, outstanding commitment and contribution to the racing industry. The six catergory winners were decided at a formal judging day held in the morning before the ceremony at the British Horseracing Authority’s London office, where members of the judging panel interviewed the finalists.
“This year’s awards have yet again produced a quite outstanding set of finalists and excellent winners,” said chairman of the panel Brough Scott.
“Despite the remarkable credentials of the winners, Jessica was a clear-cut choice for employee of the year in the eyes of the panel.”
“Despite not being the typical stud staff breed, at less than five feet tall she shows empathy with each stallion and a natural way of handling them that means her lack of physicality is not an issue.
“She has been, and still is, involved in all parts of the game, as well as stud life and is also a magnificently refreshing character.”
The full list of winners are:
Simon Archer (groom – Sir Mark Prescott)
Stud staff award:
Jessica Fortt (stud manager – Dunraven Stud)
Johnson White (assistant trainer – Philip Hobbs)
Dedication to racing award:
Lesley White (travelling head lass – Mick Channon)
David Nicholson newcomer award:
Tegan Clark (head lad – Olly Stevens)
Administration staff award:
Peter Shoemark (racing office manager – John Gosden)