Top Award for Racecourse Team

31 January 2011

Ayr Racecourse has won one of the most prestigious honours in the racing industry - the Neil Wyatt Ground Staff Award for the Best Dual Purpose Course.

This is only the second time Ayr has received this recognition - having previously been successful in 1996, the inaugural year of the award.

Clerk of the Course Emma Marley said : "We are overjoyed to be voted winners of the Neil Wyatt Dual Purpose Racecourse Award for 2010. The Grounds Team have worked remarkably hard over the past year to achieve wondrous results with the racing surface and to restore confidence within the racing community.

"Ayr Racecourse Directors have, and continue to be, extremely supportive of our initiatives and have invested significantly to enhance the racing surface and introduce portable fences. We would like to thank all Trainers, Jockeys and Owners who have supported us over the year and who have made this industry recognition possible."

The Judging Panel was pleased to reward the significant improvements at Ayr Racecourse.  In particular they recognised the professionalism, level of investment and communication by the racecourse which has resulted in strong support for the team from trainers and jockeys.

Judging of the awards took place on Thursday 20 January 2011 and the panel comprised representatives of the National Trainers Federation and Professional Jockeys' Association, with support from the BHA Inspectors of Courses.  The Awards, organised by the Racecourse Association and sponsored by Pitchcare.com in association with ALS and Fornells, are in their fifteenth year and recognise the achievements of racecourse groundstaff.

Richard Linley, Senior BHA Inspector of Courses, said: "The vagaries of the British climate have yet again challenged Groundsmen around the country during 2010, the huge effort and commitment demonstrated by those Groundsmen to their Racecourses never ceases to amaze me. It must never be forgotten that it can be just as difficult to manage sports turf in the height of summer as well as in the depths of winter, swapping frost covers for irrigation equipment and in each case trying to manage the expectations of all the participants and customers.  There are only three Official winners, but there are many winners in my eyes, and appropriate this year that the All Weather Courses are recognised for their significant contribution to the industry during 2010 with special Merit Awards."

Rupert Arnold, of the National Trainers Federation, said: "Reading the nominations I was struck by the amount of good work going on around the racecourses by very dedicated teams of groundstaff. Much of this is unseen by those outside racecourses and the great value of the Neil Wyatt Groundstaff Awards is they bring the outstanding examples to a wider audience"

Dale Gibson from the Professional Jockeys' Association said "We have all appreciated the hard work and commitment that Groundstaff put in day in, day out. Recently the severe weather has made their job harder. The PJA recognize that, and in our eyes the majority of courses are all winners.  The four safety officers submitted their nominations to those tracks that they thought were outstanding, which all received recognition."

Other awards went to Salisbury for the best flat track  and Market Rasen for the best jumps track.