Thursday, 24 November 2016

And the Winner Isn't ...

Apologies for returning to the subject of the Racecourse Association’s Showcase Awards – but it isn’t every year that we win a major award from our national trade association. In fact it’s only every other year, based on the three years since 2014 - but I’m starting to boast again ...
And while the whole team is proud that Cartmel received the accolade of Ground-staff of the Year, we know what it feels like to be runners-up too – having been shortlisted twice previously for the jumps category of the awards. It can feel pretty rubbish to dress up like a penguin for a big ceremony, have all the excitement of making the shortlist, and then remain seated for the duration of the event while others scoop all the awards. In some cases the difference between winning and losing must be so infinitesimally small as to appear quite unfair – so today I’m name-checking a few of the racecourse champions that should have won an award but didn’t.
If there’d been a ‘party animal’ award, for the liveliest racecourse – or the one that got reprimanded the most times on the dance floor – it would surely have belonged to Hamilton Park. It’s no wonder that their entry for the ‘events’ category was based on a festival of music and racing involving eight different bands over an eleven hour period. I just wonder how many of the Hamilton Park staff were moved on by security stewards at their own event.
The ‘putting yourselves about’ award for top-networking goes to Redcar who, despite sending just two delegates to the Showcase event, seem to have spoken to every single one of the 270 people in the hall during the speed-dating phase of the conference, held during the afternoon. Incidentally, the purpose of the speed-dating section was to exchange ideas; no weddings (or divorces) are expected.
Without taking anything away from Ascot Racecourse, who became the first track to reclaim the accolade of overall Showcase Champion, we should perhaps feel slightly sorry for Musselburgh – who surely came closer than any other small racecourse to winning the whole thing. Having been trumped by Ascot in the categories for ‘social media excellence’ and ‘operational excellence’, they scooped the award for ‘best event’. Apparently their advertising strapline for 2017 will be "Ever-so nearly as good as Ascot – but in a nicer part of the British Isles".
It would be sacrilegious to suggest that anyone other than Seamus Buckley, the Clerk of the Course at Goodwood, deserved to lift the Neil Wyatt Lifetime Achievement Award – he was the only winner during the evening to be accorded a standing ovation on his way to the presentation podium. However, I think it might be worth reminding the judges ahead of next year’s event that a common factor links the two most recent winners of the overall Ground-staff Award: York and Cartmel.

A certain terrier called Jack regularly oversees operations at both racecourses – occasionally accompanied by his chauffeur, Anthea Morshead (who apparently also calls herself a Clerk of the Course). For the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award (he can't be more than 10 years old) – vote Jack!
Looking ahead to the weekend, I fully expect Zubayr to be picking up the prize for ‘best hurdler’ in the 2.40 at award winning Newbury Racecourse.

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