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25 February 2020

Simone Sear wins the Rory MacDonald Community Award

Following an inspiring evening celebrating the achievements of stud and stable staff from across the country at the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards, Simone Sear, Director of Welfare for Racing Welfare, collected the Rory MacDonald Community Award.

In addition to her outstanding work for the charity, Simone has recently completed the Thoroughbred Industries MBA, conducting break-through research into stressors experienced by racehorse trainers to enable the charity to best support their wellbeing needs. James Frank of Hascombe and Valiant Stud was crowned Employee of the Year, as well as coming out on top in his category of Stud Staff.

Watch Simone’s post-win interview here:

Simone’s fellow finalists for the Community Award were Eleanor Boden, whose work inspiring and educating young people through Racing to School, and growing Scottish Racing’s social responsibility earned her recognition from the judges. Lady Oaksey, whose substantial and enduring dedication to the support and rehabilitation of injured jockeys, in particular through Oaksey House in Lambourn was recognised.

“I have gained as much from the Injured Jockeys Fund as I have given to them over the years,” she said.

James Frank of Hascombe and Valiant Stud crowned Employee of the Year

James Frank of Hascombe and Valiant Stud scooped the ultimate accolade when named as the 2020 Employee of the Year. James was presented with the perpetual Godolphin Trophy by special guest presenter Champion Jockey, Oisin Murphy alongside Ed Chamberlin at the event hosted by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA).

James takes home a total of £20,000 in prize money with the same amount being shared amongst the staff at Hascombe and Valiant Stud in Newmarket. This is part of a total of £128,000 in prize money awarded on the evening by sponsors Godolphin.

Having come to the UK from Zimbabwe in his mid-20s, James’ belief in leading from the front and setting the example to those he works with has been the hallmark of his 17 years of working in racing and breeding.

Most recently at Hascombe and Valiant Stud, his unswerving commitment to the mares and their foals and his skill with highly strung animals has seen him involved in the early stages of some of the modern greats of Flat racing, including Golden Horn and Cracksman.

James is meticulous in his organisation and forward planning and is held in universally high regard by his colleagues.

Brough Scott, Chair of the Judging Panel, said: “The panel’s job was as tough as ever this year with some remarkable stories of commitment, hard work and dedication amongst this year’s finalists.

“However, we had to reach a final decision and James is a hugely deserving winner for his years of perseverance and outstanding service to the breeding industry.”

Nick Rust, Chief Executive of the BHA, added: “For James to be named Employee of the Year when our sport employs thousands of people who work so hard to provide first class care to our horses is a fantastic achievement.

“We are grateful to all of the staff who work behind the scenes to ensure that the horses who are bred for and take part in British racing are provided with exceptionally high levels of care.

“These awards are our opportunity to say thank you to all of them, on behalf of the sport and on behalf of our horses, and tonight’s winners and finalists are fine ambassadors for their profession.”

The other category winners on the night were: Kevin Skelton of Bryan Smart Racing who took the David Nicholson newcomer award; Kim Bailey Racing’s Mat Nicholls who landed the Leadership Award; Hayley Ashcroft from Tom Dascombe’s Manor House Stables who was successful in the Rider/Groom category and Andy Stringer, whose years of service in racing most recently with John Gosden earned him the Dedication award.

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