Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024

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Racing Australia and Thoroughbred Breeders Australia welcome special guests:

The Honourable Grace Grace MP Minister for State Development and Infrastructure Minister for Industrial Relations Minister for Racing

Mr Shane Rose Triple Olympic medallist in Eventing. Champions the skills of Off The Track Thoroughbreds, winning silver on his OTT All Luck in Beijing

CONTENTS Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024 1
3. Welcome
Sponsor’s message
Categories and
The judges
Our 2024 finalists
Administration and Ancillary Services Award
Dedication to Breeding Award
Horsemanship Award
Leadership Award
Dedication to Racing Award
Thoroughbred Care and Welfare Award
Newcomer Award
A message from John Brady
Our sponsors and media partners
2 Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024

On behalf of Racing Australia and Thoroughbred Breeders Australia, we welcome you to the 10th Stud & Stable Staff Awards ceremony on the Gold Coast.

In particular, we would like to greet and congratulate the Awards finalists, Belinda Miller, Emma Cully, Ngyrie Gonzalez, Diane Colebrook, Hazel Fertier, Arda Tascioglu, Paul Reid, Finn McCarthy, Fiona Fletcher, Trudie Clarke, Julie Bramucci, Nicole Mutimer, Isabelle Toole and Jack Fonteyn.

We wish you all well and welcome your family and friends who have joined you tonight. In addition, we are delighted to greet board members and representatives from Racing Australia, Thoroughbred Breeders Australia and from our Award sponsors, Victoria Racing Club, MRC Foundation, Australian Turf Club, Queensland Off The Track, Thoroughbred Industry Careers, Marcus Oldham College, Magic Millions and Inglis, as well as our media partners,, Sky Racing, SEN Track, ANZ Bloodstock News and The Thoroughbred Report Australia & New Zealand.

Our thanks go to all those in the various sectors of Australian racing and breeding who put forward nominations. This year we received over 130 nominations from the widest-ever range of training establishments, studs and other organisations that support and maintain an industry that is one of Australia’s largest.

As we all know, the hard work and commitment of staff is the cornerstone of our industry. Without that, Australia would not be regarded as a global leader in thoroughbred racing and breeding.

We would like to acknowledge and thank the judges for the huge part they have played in adjudicating and selecting the winners in each category.

Special thanks go to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and to Godolphin for their continued support of the Australian racing and breeding industry, particularly through these Awards. We look forward to this event continuing to be regarded as the pinnacle of staff awards in our industry.

We hope you have a thoroughly enjoyable evening, and wish all the winners and runners-up the very best for the future.

Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024 3
4 Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024

At Godolphin, we are delighted our sponsorship of the Stud & Stable Staff Awards continues for the 10th year in Australia – a very significant anniversary. These celebrated accolades recognise and reward the dedication and passion of many remarkable people who work behind the scenes and are the lifeblood of our racing and breeding community.

These national Awards have seen a large number of high-quality nominations across the seven categories this year.

Particularly encouraging is the strength of entries in the Newcomer category, which continues to gain momentum each year. Our community can look forward with optimism knowing the industry’s drive to attract new people is having a positive impact.

With such a high standard of nominations, our shortlisting and judging panels had yet another difficult task in selecting winners. We are extremely grateful to the distinguished, independent panel members from across the industry for devoting their time, diverse knowledge and diligent work in choosing seven worthy winners.

Importantly, we acknowledge those who took the time to nominate their staff, colleague or friend as without these nominations, there would be no Awards. Each nomination highlights the high regard in which the nominee is held – and that recognition is central to these Awards.

We also pay tribute to all participants who work long, hard hours to ensure a high standard of care for the thoroughbred 365 days of the year. We thank you – and tonight is a nod to each and every one of you.

When His Highness Sheikh Mohammed generously initiated and launched the first Awards in the UK more than 20 years ago, his aim was, and still is, to reward excellence in all areas of the racing and breeding industry.

Year on year the Stud & Stable Staff Awards build wider recognition for those incredible individuals who make a real difference to their horses and this sport. I thank the event committee for shaping the Awards to the highest standard.

I’d like to also thank Award partners Racing Australia and Thoroughbred Breeders Australia and their respective boards.

Our generous Award sponsors have also gone above and beyond: Melbourne Racing Club Foundation, Australian Turf Club, Magic Millions, Inglis, Victoria Racing Club, Queensland Off The Track, Thoroughbred Industry Careers and Marcus Oldham College as well as our media partners,, Sky Racing, ANZ Bloodstock News and The Thoroughbred Report Australia and New Zealand. We thank them for their support.

Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024 5
Godolphin Australia



An Award to an individual staff member who works in an administration role on a stud or in a racing stable or services ancillary to racing or breeding. Must demonstrate exceptional skills, loyalty or some achievement that has added value to their employer’s business and directly or indirectly to industry standards

Prize includes $10,000 to the winner, with $3,000 to the runner-up.


An Award to an individual staff member who has shown talent in thoroughbred breeding horsemanship as well as consistency and reliability in a stud role.

Prize includes $10,000 to the winner, with $3,000 to the runner-up.


An Award to an individual staff member who has shown talent for horsemanship, consistency and reliability in or out of the saddle. Must include an affinity with horses and give priority to animal welfare.

Prize includes $10,000 to the winner, with $3,000 to the runner-up.


An Award to an individual staff member in a managerial or supervisory role in a stud or stable who has displayed leadership qualities – in particular, quality people management, mentoring and support of staff, attention to workplace health and safety, commitment to continuous improvement and displaying good business acumen.

Prize includes $10,000 to the winner, with $3,000 to the runner-up.

6 Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024


An Award to an individual staff member who has shown talent for horsemanship in the racing field, and consistency and reliability in a racing role. Must have at least five years’ service in the racing industry and have been pivotal to their employer’s success.

Prize includes $10,000 to the winner, with $3,000 to the runner-up.


An Award to an individual who has demonstrated a commitment to the care and welfare of thoroughbreds who are not actively racing, and/or created a greater awareness, passion and care for the thoroughbred horse in its second/alternate career.

Prize includes $10,000 to the winner, with $3,000 to the runner-up.


An Award to an individual who has worked in the industry, in any capacity, for less than five years. The winner will display passion for, pride in, and an excellent contribution to the thoroughbred industry. The winner will stand out from other newcomers and will be identified as a future and significant valuable member of this industry.

Prize includes $5,000 to the winner, with $3,000 to the runner-up. In addition, an opportunity for an educational experience to support their career goals will be offered to both finalists.


Winners of the Administration and Ancillary Services, Dedication to Racing, Dedication to Breeding, Horsemanship and Leadership Awards are eligible to win this category. Prize of $5,000 goes to the winner.

Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024 7



Final judging panel

The son of prominent racehorse trainer Leon Corstens, Troy Corstens’s success with his and his father’s racing team Malua Racing is not limited to training winners. The G1-winning trainer also sits on the Victorian branch of the Australian Trainers’ Association board and has been a member of the Stud & Stable Staff Awards judging panel since 2015.


Shortlisting and final judging panels

Peter Heagney’s career is defined by his legendary 45 years as a thoroughbred auctioneer for both Dalgety and Inglis, which has seen him mentor up-andcoming auctioneers while bringing down the hammer in all Australian states, New Zealand, China, Malaysia and the UK. A retired director of Inglis and Equestrian Victoria, Heagney has been involved with the Stud & Stable Staff Awards since 2015.


Final judging panel

Reg Fleming joined the panel as Dedication to Racing and Thoroughbred Excellence Awards winner in 2022. He brings the experience of a lifetime having worked with leading trainers in four Australian states, including Alby Pratt, Bruce McLachlan, Buster O’Malley and Tommy Hughes. After completing 18 years with legendary trainer Bart Cummings, he joined Godolphin, where he is Senior Foreman at Carbine Lodge, Melbourne. With horses his priority, even after they retire, he is custodian of four-time G1 winner and Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup placegetter, Hartnell.


Chair of final judging panel

With Johan Petzer’s career as a steward spanning 31 years, he is currently General Manager of Integrity and Chairman of Stewards with Racing South Australia. He also serves as Racing Australia’s representative on the Committee for the Harmonisation of Racing Rules with the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities. Petzer is Chair of the Stud & Stable Staff Awards judging panel, leading a passionate and highly dedicated team of racing industry personalities from diverse backgrounds in assessing the nominees each year.

8 Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024


Final judging panel

The principal of Queensland’s renowned Raheen Stud, Basil Nolan is the president of both Thoroughbred Breeders Queensland and the peak national body, Thoroughbred Breeders Australia (TBA). TBA has been a proud partner of the Stud & Stable Staff Awards since their inception in 2015 and Nolan has been a valued member of the judging panel ever since.


Shortlisting panel

James Tzaferis has covered thoroughbred racing in Australia for almost a decade, and currently works as a broadcaster and journalist with While his role includes working as part of the broadcast team for Victoria and South Australia’s major carnivals, he has a particular passion for the grassroots of racing. His previous roles include being a part of the successful Off The Track program which has fostered a keen interest in equine welfare.


Shortlisting and final judging panels

Mary has worked in racing administration for more than 30 years, starting at the Australian Jockey Club before joining the Australian Racing Board and then Racing Australia (RA). Her main responsibility has been assisting the Board, the CEO and subcommittees which has involved wide-spread liaison with racing and breeding stakeholders. Mary has also been involved with RA’s international relationships. Now retired, she is looking forward to giving back to the thoroughbred industry.


Shortlisting and final judging panels

With a career spanning 45 years, Jenny Watson has spent 35 years as Foaling Supervisor at Armidale Stud in Tasmania, while also managing her own breeding operation in Tasmania with her husband, Geoff. For the past 22 years she has been a valuable board member at Thoroughbred Breeders Tasmania. An alumnus of the Stud & Stable Staff Awards, Watson won the Dedication to Breeding and the Thoroughbred Excellence Award in 2016 and has been on the judging panel ever since.


Shortlisting and final judging panels

An inaugural member of the Stud & Stable Staff Awards judging panel, Mel Weatherley has used her educational background to promote the love of the horse and nurture the industry’s next generation throughout her career. Having previously managed Racing Victoria’s Apprentice Jockey Training and Workforce Development programs. She has also worked with Thoroughbred Industry Careers and the Gold Coast Turf Club on industry-specific education and employment initiatives.

Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024 9

Sledmere Stud


McEvoy Mitchell Racing




Armidale Stud


Greg Eurell Racing

OUR 2024
10 Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024


Alwyn Park Stud


Thoroughbred Racing

Northern Territory



Horse Educator


Rafiki Equestrian


Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott Racing


Freelance Trackrider


Northern Territory Institute of Equestrian Sport

Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024 11
SSSA Administration and Ancillary Services Award winner 12 Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024
Mary O’Neill,


Belinda Miller, Sledmere Stud

Emma Cully, Star Thoroughbreds

Like so many who work in their positions, Belinda Miller and Emma Cully, the finalists in the Administration and Ancillary Services category, don’t receive many mentions in victory speeches or celebrations.

More than likely though, they wrote the speech or organised the celebration.

Officially they are listed as Office Managers, Miller at Sledmere Stud and Cully with the syndicator, Star Thoroughbreds. Unofficially, they are much more.

Miller’s job at Sledmere incorporates all the skills and knowledge she has acquired in 30 years in the industry.

“Belinda has gone above and beyond in every way I could imagine,” says Sledmere principal Treen Murphy.

“Her knowledge and experience are invaluable, from HR to the core business of breeding, she has it all.”

Miller is credited with creating a model workplace at Sledmere through her support and encouragement of the staff, her appreciation of clear and consistent HR policy and her passion for the industry.

“The current level of success at Sledmere can be attributed in many ways to Belinda’s exceptional leadership, dedication and commitment,” Murphy says.

“She has elevated our workplace and has set a standard of excellence.”

In her three decades in the industry, Miller has worked for some of the biggest players, including Arrowfield, Emirates Park and Godolphin, and has been involved in the Godolphin Flying Start program.

Emma Cully arrived in Australia from Ireland in 2011 with an impressive CV. She joined the team at Star Thoroughbreds in 2013 and in the eyes of that organisation’s founder, Denise Martin, she is a constant revelation.

“Emma has been integral to the success of our business. She’s kept pace with every move, every change; there is nothing I can’t trust her with,” Martin says.

For her part, Cully accepts her place as a Stud & Stable Staff Awards finalist with humility.

“To be honest, I’m amazed,” she says. “It’s an absolute honour. It’s not on your mind at any time, but to be recognised among such a strong group is very special.”

Martin points to the switch of trainer she made in 2014 as testament to Cully’s importance to her business.

According to Martin: “She gave our owners full confidence that they were in good hands, and her unwavering devotion has earned the respect of everyone she comes in contact with.

“Emma has a commitment to excellence and a perfect understanding of our desire to have the business identified as Australia’s quality racehorse syndication company.”

Martin also praises her management of the statutory requirements imposed by government on racehorse syndicators.

“It’s one of the major reasons Australian racing is so strong and Emma handles it all so thoroughly well. She is one of the most capable people in the industry.”

EMMA CULLY Star Thoroughbreds
Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024 13
2023 SSSA Dedication to Breeding Award winner 14 Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024
Kayleigh Walsh,


Diane Colebrook, Armidale Stud

Ngyrie Gonzalez, Alwyn Park Stud

For an award that celebrates dedication in the thoroughbred industry, Diane Colebrook and Ngyrie Gonzalez have impeccable credentials.

Such superlatives as ‘unequivocal commitment’ and ‘total devotion’ are scattered through the testimonials that support their nominations in the Dedication to Breeding category.

Colebrook is the Operations Manager at Armidale Stud, Tasmania’s preeminent thoroughbred farm, and is credited with being vital to its success.

Born in the UK where she began her association with horses, Colebrook arrived at Armidale via New Zealand where she first got involved with racing.

“I’d studied for a Diploma in Equine Business in England and it wasn’t until I got to New Zealand that I got involved in racing as a trackwork rider,” Colebrook says.

A stint on the Queensland Gold Coast followed before she gained experience in the veterinary area at the Randwick Equine Centre.

“I went for a holiday to Tasmania and loved it, so when an opportunity came to work at Armidale, I jumped at it.”

For Colebrook and the farm, their relationship has grown well beyond that of employer and employee.

“Di made Armidale her home to the great advantage of the farm and of herself,” says her nominator and colleague Rik Rushton.

“She has a wealth of knowledge and skill and her unequivocal commitment and extraordinary dedication are there for all to see.

“Di has the uncanny ability to identify every horse on the farm at a glance. She doesn’t need a spreadsheet or a database to know what’s happening with any horse at any moment.”

Colebrook is also devoted to rehoming retired thoroughbreds and as well as finding new homes for them, she has Off The Track horses of her own.

Dedication is also in the DNA of Ngyrie Gonzalez, the Stud Manager at Alwyn Park Stud at Serpentine, south of Perth.

Stud owner John Andrew makes no apology for the dependence he places on Gonzalez: “Ngyrie isn’t just part of our family, she’s the most important part”.

Alwyn Park operates in every area of breeding and early development of thoroughbreds, and Gonzalez does the same.

“We have stallions, broodmares, there’s foaling, there’s weanlings and yearlings, we do it all,” Andrew says.

“There’s no job that’s off-limits, from operating the chaff cutter to liaising with clients, she has total devotion to whatever she does. I could walk off the farm and she could run it.”

Her introduction to thoroughbreds came via the traditional path of pony club and agricultural shows. After finishing school she completed a course in equine management before venturing into the breeding world.

“I love the whole industry, but I really enjoy the breeding side. Being there at the beginning and following through is tremendously satisfying,” she says.

DEDICATION TO BREEDING AWARD Sponsored by Magic Millions
Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024 15
16 Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024
Emile Fredericks, 2023 SSSA Horsemanship Award winner


Arda Tascioglu, Freelance Horse Educator

Hazel Fertier, Freelance Trackrider

One is from a family steeped in racing history, the other has a heritage that is about as far from the local thoroughbred industry as you can get.

But Hazel Fertier and Arda Tascioglu, both finalists in the Horsemanship category, possess skills that are matched by a love and devotion to the animals they work with.

Fertier is a horsewoman through and through, educating young horses and riding out for just about every trainer at Murray Bridge in South Australia.

In support of her nomination for the 2024 Awards, a dozen of those trainers testified to her talent, her devotion and her character.

As trainer Dean Alexander says: “Hazel is an outstanding person and an equally outstanding horsewoman, with an incredible work ethic.”

Another trainer, Karen Byrnes, says: “I’ve watched Hazel grow up on the racetrack and she is now the most relied-upon rider in Southern Australia. She even rode work on the morning of her own wedding.”

Trainer Mick Huxtable describes Fertier as the backbone of his operation. “In my 50 years of training I’ve never seen anyone as conscientious, or anyone with a greater affinity with horses.”

To Fertier, it is all elementary: “Riding and working with horses is something I enjoy, it comes easily. Really, there is no better way I can think of to spend my time.”

Arda Tascioglu’s introduction to the thoroughbred horse was a world away from Fertier’s, but he has embraced his opportunities with similar enthusiasm and dedication.

Tascioglu first saw a racehorse as a child while on a picnic with his family in his birthplace of Istanbul.

“I was intrigued straight away and that feeling has never left me,” he says.

When he left school, Tascioglu followed his dream, enrolling in an equine business and training course at the University of Istanbul and, after graduating, he applied to racing stables and farms around the world.

A job offer from NSW country trainer Justin Drake was duly accepted in 2006 and a career that has led to Tascioglu working at some of the world’s most famous racing establishments was underway.

His SSSA nominator Jasmin Couch says that as Tascioglu’s skills developed, so did his love and understanding of horses and of his new home, leading to him being granted Australian citizenship.

He then joined Godolphin at their Crown Lodge and Osborne Park stables. In order to broaden his experience further, he took the opportunity to travel to Canada to work with Hall of Fame trainer Reade Baker.

On returning to Australia, he joined the early education and pre-training team at Godolphin’s Kelvinside farm in the Hunter Valley. In 2016 Godolphin provided him with an added opportunity to work in Newmarket UK for a term. After this he returned to Godolphin’s Kelvinside to work with the stallions.

HORSEMANSHIP AWARD Sponsored by Inglis
FERTIER Freelance Trackrider
TASCIOGLU Freelance Horse Educator Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024 17
2023 SSSA Leadership Award winner 18 Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024
Sean Keogh,


Finn McCarthy, McEvoy Mitchell Racing

Paul Reid, Godolphin

Anyone can be called a leader, but not everyone can lead.

Paul Reid and Finn McCarthy, however, were born to the leadership roles to which they have risen, and are praised as guiding lights in their own stables, and in the wider industry.

Reid and McCarthy are finalists in the Leadership category of the 2024 Stud & Stable Staff Awards, thanks to the overwhelming endorsement of their colleagues.

Reid is the Assistant Trainer at Godolphin’s Osborne Park complex, a role in which he has served for 12 years under trainers Peter Snowden, John O’Shea and James Cummings. As his nominator, and fellow worker, Georgia Whitaker, says: “Paul is so consistently positive, he’s a truly lead-by-example person.”

“I speak for the entire Osborne Park team when I say we are all incredibly lucky and privileged to have a leader of Reid’s calibre.

“He’s everything that someone in his position should be – dedicated, hardworking, committed, approachable, inspirational, determined, positive and caring. He creates a workplace in which everyone can thrive.”

While he is in elite company these days, Reid entered the racing industry on the ground floor.

“I started at the bottom and I regarded it as a privilege to be there,” he says.

“My dad was a trainer in the Northern Rivers area of NSW and as soon as I was old enough to do anything with the horses, I was into it like a shot. There wasn’t anything about the business that I didn’t love, and it’s still that way.”

Before moving into his current position, Reid had worked with champion trainer John Hawkes and his successor as head trainer to the Ingham family, Peter Snowden.

McCarthy came from Ireland to the stables of trainers Tony McEvoy and his son Calvin in 2018, armed with a university degree and a welldeveloped work ethic.

“We recognised Finn’s qualities from the start. His exceptional integrity, empathy and reliability were matched by his desire to learn and progress,” McEvoy says.

After starting off as an exercise rider at Flemington, McCarthy moved to the McEvoy stables in the Barossa Valley and then to Ballarat when a new base was set up under the supervision of Calvin McEvoy.

“Finn was the obvious choice to work alongside my son Calvin, creating the new stables,” Tony McEvoy says.

McCarthy is now the Stable Manager at Ballarat, where he’s in charge of 150 horses and 30 staff, a responsibility he handles with skill and enterprise.

“Finn consistently acts with a positive attitude and has a great ability to connect with his staff,” McEvoy adds.

“He is always seeking new solutions to every challenge and has enormous pride in our horses and staff. Finn organises all raceday logistics for staff and horses. It all runs flawlessly, as the results show.

“He has exceptional leadership qualities and unwavering dedication.”

LEADERSHIP AWARD Sponsored by Victoria Racing Club
PAUL REID Godolphin FINN MCCARTHY McEvoy Mitchell Racing Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024 19
2023 SSSA Dedication to
and Excellence Award winner 20 Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024
John Brady,
Racing Award winner


Fiona Fletcher, Greg Eurell Racing

Trudie Clarke, Thoroughbred Racing Northern Territory

Fiona Fletcher and Trudie Clarke define Dedication to Racing.

Both have given their entire working lives to the industry, Fletcher in a Melbourne racing stable and Clarke at one of the far-flung frontiers of racing in the Northern Territory.

Fletcher joined Victorian trainer Greg Eurell when he was fresh from competing for Australia as an Olympian and she was a teenager.

“I weighed about 42kg and couldn’t lift a bucket of water,” Fletcher says. “My mum had sent me to secretarial school, but I fell in love with horses.”

It was a love affair that has never ended; her part-time job turned into a full-time occupation and she is still totally committed, more than 30 years on.

Fletcher was nominated for these Awards by Eurell and his wife Liz, who describe her as the ‘heart and soul’ of their operation.

“Fiona came to Greg when he was starting out, when we were basically a breaking and pre-training facility,” says Liz Eurell.

“She quickly went through the ranks from stablehand to managing 20 staff. These days, she’s still the first one to open the stable gates and the last to leave. Even after a night meeting, if a horse has a slow recovery she stays at the stable until it’s well enough to be left alone.”

Fletcher’s official position is Stable Foreperson, a role that entailed her looking after such Eurell-trained stars as the six-time G1 winner Apache Cat and Cox Plate winner Pinker Pinker. Unofficially, it extends to almost every area.

“As well as all the work and attention she devotes to the horses, Fiona encourages the young staff to learn by example. She is key to so much of what occurs in our stable,” says Liz.

Trudie Clarke has given half a century to racing in the Northern Territory, a jurisdiction where hard work and modest rewards are taken for granted. But she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I’ve ridden trackwork, I’ve been a jockey, a trainer and a tutor at a local college for 20 years. I’ve had a role with Thoroughbred Racing Northern Territory, and I do a bit of rehoming of Off The Track horses,” Clarke says.

She was also Clerk of the Course at Darwin’s Fannie Bay racecourse for almost 40 years before her recent retirement.

One of Clarke’s favourite duties is to take her students from Taminmin College to the racecourse for handson experience in all facets of horse management and riding.

Among her other credits, Clarke is also the first woman to ride a winner in Darwin, although she tends to play that down.

“That was in the days after the 1974 cyclone when they only raced unregistered horses up here,” she says.

In recognition of her work, Clarke has been inducted into Darwin’s Racing Hall of Fame. As her nominator, Thoroughbred Racing NT Chief Executive Andrew O’Toole, puts it: “Trudie is a totally dedicated member of the racing fraternity, and her tireless work in every area of the industry has made her an institution in Top End racing.”

DEDICATION TO RACING AWARD Sponsored by Australian Turf Club
CLARKE Thoroughbred Racing Northern Territory FIONA FLETCHER Greg Eurell Racing Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024 21
22 Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024
Louise Abey, 2023 SSSA Thoroughbred Care and Welfare Award winner


Julie Bramucci, Rafiki Equestrian


Rafiki Equestrian


Northern Territory Institute of Equestrian Sport

Nicole Mutimer, Northern Territory Institute of Equestrian Sport

No area of the thoroughbred industry requires more selfless dedication, understanding, patience, energy, insight, compassion, generosity or love than the rehoming and retraining of thoroughbreds.

And it is difficult to imagine two SSSA finalists who better represent those qualities than Nicole Mutimer and Julie Bramucci.

In an area of the industry that is under considerable public scrutiny, Mutimer and Bramucci – and many more like them – go to extraordinary lengths to ensure that horses remain lifelong heroes.

Mutimer has been rehoming and retraining for 20 years and conducts it alongside her Northern Territory Institute of Equestrian Sport business in Darwin.

She also manages and coaches NT equestrian teams, has worked with the mounted police branch in juvenile diversion programs, conducts thoroughbred education clinics, and much more.

Her nominator, the Territory’s Off The Track (OTT) director Ella Baird, says Mutimer regularly goes to extraordinary lengths to offer help and advice to thoroughbred owners.

“Her passion to advocate for the thoroughbred and educate owners across the Northern Territory is unparalleled,” Baird says.

Mutimer is also of great assistance to horse owners in an environment that presents unique issues.

“We were contacted by an owner at Tennant Creek who had an OTT horse with some soundness issues. She didn’t have a horse float so Nicole made the 10-hour trip out there to

see her and give advice and some retraining,” Baird says.

Over the past 30 years, Julie Bramucci has followed a more conventional rehoming and retraining path. But it is one that has required the same level of dedication and care.

As her husband and nominator, Marco Bramucci, says: “Julie adores each horse she takes on. Her love and belief in them as the ultimate athletes is second-to-none. The horses are her life, and her compassion is infectious.”

Bramucci began working with retired thoroughbreds long before OTT programs existed and has retrained and rehomed hundreds of horses.

“Her dedication and love for them results in happy horses that end up with grateful owners,” says Marco.

“She is honest and meticulous in finding the best homes and the best of outcomes for the horses that come into her care.”

Bramucci’s selfless, caring nature is evident not only in the horses she works with, but also in her relationships with their new owners. There have been occasions when Bramucci has given horses away at a cost to herself.

“There was one occasion when a lady who was going through treatment for breast cancer enquired about a horse. Julie and her mother have both battled breast cancer, so she gave the lady the horse for free and it helped her.

“I can only offer the greatest praise for my wife’s work ethic, integrity and drive.”

THOROUGHBRED CARE AND WELFARE AWARD Sponsored by Queensland Off The Track
Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024 23
2023 SSSA Newcomer Award winner 24 Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024
James Green ,


Isabelle Toole, Vinery Stud

Jack Fonteyn, Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott Racing

Jack Fonteyn isn’t too proud to admit he needed help to fill a water bucket when he arrived at the Randwick stables of Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott.

And in Isabelle Toole’s earliest days in the thoroughbred industry at Newhaven Park, she was so nervous around horses that she had to brush the broodmares from the other side of a fence.

But within a couple of months, both were handling responsibility and horses with confidence and skill and were well on the way to taking their place as finalists in the Newcomer category of the 2024 Stud & Stable Staff Awards.

For Fonteyn, the progression from buckets to being regarded as a thoroughly capable horseman has been achieved with an eagerness to learn and endless empathy for the horses he cares for.

“There were days when I felt like I knew nothing at all,” Fonteyn says. “But you start forming relationships with the horses and they develop trust in you. It is incredibly rewarding.”

Fonteyn’s nominator, Emma Coleman, put his swift progress down to an insatiable desire to learn.

“Jack was eager from the beginning, always asking lots of questions. It was very evident he had a deep affection for animals,” Coleman says.

“I’ve never seen someone take to it as quickly as Jack has. For a man who had never touched a horse before, within two weeks he was bringing them to the pool for their afternoon exercise, putting them on the walker and treadmill, and within a month he was strapping at the races.”

Two years into the job and Fonteyn is a Senior Stablehand, travelling horses to interstate race meetings. He has also taken up an opportunity to spend time in a Japanese racing stable.

Isabelle Toole was equally unfamiliar with horses when she threw in her old job packing meat at an abattoir to join the famed Newhaven Park stud. Her nominator, Ashley Arnold, recalled Toole’s earliest days at the farm.

“One of Isabelle’s first jobs was to brush some mares and she was so scared she only felt comfortable grooming from the other side of the fence,” Arnold says.

“But she never said no to any job, and a year later she was leading yearlings into the ring at the Easter Sales. It couldn’t have been done without her enthusiasm, motivation and her passion to learn.”

Another turning point in Toole’s career came later in the same year when she took on the night-watch role at Newhaven and was on hand for some 50 safe deliveries for both foals and mares.

“She’s calm, compassionate and eager, and it shows in everything she does,” Arnold says.

Toole has since moved on to the Vinery Stud at Segenhoe in the Hunter Valley where her latest role has been preparing yearlings for some of Australia’s biggest sales.

NEWCOMER AWARD Sponsored by Thoroughbred Industry Careers and Marcus Oldham College
JACK FONTEYN Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott Racing
Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024 25
The 2023 Thoroughbred Excellence Award winner 26 Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2024
John Brady,


2023 Thoroughbred Excellence Award winner

My life in racing has been a very great privilege for me. I didn’t know where it would go when I began in the early 1950s with T J Smith, just as he was starting to make his name as one of the greatest trainers in the world. It was an honour to work for such a man and it was because of the respect we had for each other, and being involved with so many wonderful horses, that I stayed with him, and then with his daughter Gai Waterhouse, for more than 70 years. I have treasured those relationships and memories and will hold on to them forever.

It was also very special to me, in the final year of my working life, to be honoured at the Stud & Stable Staff Awards in 2023.

When my name was read out as the winner of the Dedication to Racing prize it was like winning a big race. To then also be named as the Excellence

Award winner, with my daughter alongside me, was an honour that I can’t thank everybody enough for.

It was a very proud moment for me. I thank Camille Dennis from Tulloch Lodge for nominating me. She had to do it twice to get me over the line, but we got there, thanks to her and all the staff at the stables. It was a sad day when I retired from the only real job I’ve ever had, and the only one I ever really wanted.

I am happy to say that if I had my life all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.

My heartfelt congratulations go to all of this year’s finalists and all the others who were nominated. The work they do isn’t often seen by people outside of racing, so it’s a great thing for them to be treated so well by the sponsors and the organisers of these Awards. Thank you all.

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The SSSA Committee would like to publicly acknowledge and thank our Awards sponsors and partners. Without the time, effort and commitment from each of these organisations and their people we would not be able to effectively reach, recognise and reward the staff who lie at the heart of our industry’s continued success in Australia.

From world-leading auction houses to thriving race clubs, educational innovators nurturing and informing our future generations or market-leading media outlets; each sponsor and partner is critical to these Awards today and in future years.

The Committee, together with Racing Australia, Thoroughbred Breeders Australia and major sponsor Godolphin, is proud to see Australia’s world-leading industry come together through the Stud & Stable Staff Awards to recognise and reward the outstanding talent, diligence and commitment of people at the heart of our sport. Thank you.

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Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

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