Ahead of nominations for next year’s Godolphin Stud & Stable Staff Awards closing next month, the Racing Post is running a great series of Q&A sessions with this year’s winners. In the first of this series, Rory O'Dowd, winner of the 2017 Leadership Award, reflects on his success and his work.
What makes for good stable staff?
You have to want to learn all the time and be a good listener. Punctuality is a big thing too, but if you want to get on in the industry then you should also have a serious interest in the racehorse.
How important are these awards?
They're so important for the recognition they give staff. It was huge for me personally. It was the highlight of my racing career. It shows the public what goes on behind the scenes and how hard everybody works. These awards are huge.
What did it mean to win?
Winning gave me the confidence to consider other things. The recognition made everything I've done feel worthwhile. The prize-money came at the right time too because I was moving house. The way we were treated on awards night was second to none. We were spoilt rotten. I've moved jobs now because I needed to spend more time with my children. I'm running the pre-training yard for Jane Allison Equestrian, breaking in yearlings. It's more work but less hours.
What is the biggest challenge stable staff face?
It's the dull winters and the weather. It's not nice to be out in the worst weathers, which is why you really need to love the sport and have a real interest in horses to get on. Wages could be better for staff coming into the industry, and the unsociable hours - going racing, getting back late and having to take runners the next day.
If you could change one thing about your job what would it be?
There's very little I'd change because I loved it so much, but more time off would have been welcome. A lot of yards have now introduced some afternoons off, which we started at Brian Meehan's. All that allows time to just do the normal stuff, like banking or having a haircut, things there are no time to do when you're working all the time
What is the best thing about your job?
Getting results, seeing the horses compete and win big races. And working with so many different characters. I am a people person and love working with different people.
The awards are generously sponsored by Godolphin, and run by the BHA in association with the Racing Post. Nominations, which close on November 21, can be submitted by clicking here.