At a gala evening ceremony celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards, Leanne Masterton, Travelling Head Girl for Andrew Balding, was named as Employee of the Year 2014. However, despite being awarded the highest recognition of the evening, she was still up early the following morning to make sure her favourite horse, Side Glance, was fully prepared for his flight out to Dubai. Leanne will accompany Side Glance where he will run on Dubai World Cup night.
Leanne was awarded with the perpetual Godolphin Trophy by guest presenter and 18-time Champion Jump Jockey AP McCoy at a glittering event sponsored by Godolphin and hosted by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). She was also presented with a cheque for a staggering £30,000, of which £15,000 will be shared amongst the staff at trainer Andrew Balding's Park House Stables in Kingsclere.
Leanne arrived at Park House at 16 and has developed into one of the finest and most respected travelling grooms on the international circuit. She rode seven winners as an apprentice and has since been chosen to travel horses to various high-profile overseas excursions, including to Canada, America, Turkey, Germany, Italy, Hong Kong and Dubai.
The highlight of Leanne’s 18-year career came in 2013 as she played an instrumental role in travelling Side Glance to Australia when he won the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes on Derby Day at Flemington Racecourse.
Speaking to the Racing Post, Leanne said of travelling Side Glance all around the world:
“It’s quite a bit of responsibility and a bit of pressure. You kind of become their best friend and when I’m away from him, I miss him. I owe him so much, he’s done so much for me.”
On Receiving her award, Leanne said:
“The winters are hard with the wet and the cold and everything, but you’ll start riding one of those two-year-olds that you started breaking in during the winters and they win their first race – that’s what you see through. It’s certainly not a job, it’s a way of life.”
The Awards ceremony took place at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel in London’s Knightsbridge in front of a specially invited audience from across the racing industry to celebrate the vital role of stud and stable staff in the Racing industry.
All 16 finalists, including the winner of the Administration Staff Award, were praised by the judges for their talent, outstanding commitment and contribution to the racing industry.
Brough Scott, Chairman of the Judging Panel, commented:
“This tenth set of awards produced a quite outstanding set of finalists and quite excellent winners. Finally choosing Leanne Masterton as employee of the year was particularly difficult but she is a magnificent illustration of how fulfilling a role in racing can be.”
The winners were decided at a formal judging day held in the morning before the ceremony at the British Horseracing Authority’s London office, where each of the finalists were interviewed by members of the judging panel.