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Five staff from Newmarket among the finalists for Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards





The finalists have been announced for the annual Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards, with five Newmarket-based staff shortlisted for one of the valuable prizes.

To mark the 20th anniversary of the prestigious awards, the Princess Royal will be guest of honour at Ascot racecourse when the winners are announced at a glittering ceremony on Monday following the final round of judging.

In the Leadership category, Cheryl Armstrong, head girl for Charlie Fellowes, and Andy McIntyre, assistant trainer to William Haggas are both finalists.

Cheryl Armstrong who is a finalist in the Thoroughbred Industry Employees awards
Cheryl Armstrong who is a finalist in the Thoroughbred Industry Employees awards

Coincidentally, the pair have been friends since meeting at a very young age when they were starting out in racing in Scotland.

Andy knew from a very young age that he wanted to work in racing and started as a 12-year-old schoolboy with record-breaking Scottish trainer Keith Dalgleish working in his yard near Glasgow before and after school.

When he left school, Andy enrolled in the British Racing School in Newmarket where he learnt to ride, returning briefly to Mr Dalgliesh before subsequently going to work at Lambourn for trainer Ed Walker for four years, working his way up to head lad.

Andrew McIntyre who is assistant trainer To William Haggas
Andrew McIntyre who is assistant trainer To William Haggas

When the job with William Haggas came up four years later, Andy was delighted to be able to take the next step up the ladder.

“I have learnt such a lot, not by being taught so much as by watching the way William does the job,” he said.

“It’s a way of life,” said Andrew, who lives in Soham with his fiancee Megan and their 19-month-old son Finlay.

Linda Murphy who is bidding to win the dedication category
Linda Murphy who is bidding to win the dedication category

“You have to enjoy working all hours so it’s definitely not for the faint hearted,” added Andy.

Cheryl also began working in a racing yard while still at school, in her case with trainer Linda Perratt, also near Glasgow, until she was 21 when she left racing for four years for a role as a support worker for children with autism.

When she decided to return to the sport she came to Newmarket, joining Charlie Fellowes’s team as a rider and also taking on some of the travelling.

Flying groom Brian Taylor who is in the final of the dedication category
Flying groom Brian Taylor who is in the final of the dedication category

“Then the head lad’s job came along and I snapped it up,” said Cheryl, who feels an important part of her role is with young people joining the team at Bedford House.

“We need them to come through because they are the ones who will keep racing going”, she said. “Some of them are only 16 and away from home for the first time and I wish I had been able to get the same guidance as I am trying to give them.”

Cheryl, whose partner Stuart Ritchie also works for Charlie Fellowes, has just returned to work after maternity leave following the birth of their five-month-old baby girl Aurora.

Noel Challinor who will be bidding to win the stud staff category
Noel Challinor who will be bidding to win the stud staff category

“There are also two contenders from Newmarket in the Dedication category.

Linda Murphy, who has spent a lifetime in the industry is racing secretary to trainer Rae Guest.

She has worked in nearly every role in racing from groom to head girl. She was assistant trainer to Alan Bailey, an exercise rider in Florida and head girl/stable manager for Saeed bin Suroor for 12 years, responsible for a number of group one winners and two winners of the Arc.

After Linda was laid low with a debilitating illness and could no longer carry out a hands-on role with horses, she transferred to the office where, said Mr Guest, she has reinvented herself as ‘the heartbeat of the yard’.

Also in the Dedication shortlist is Brian Taylor, who will literally be flying in for the awards ceremony.

A professional flying groom who has spent the best part of 40 years accompanying horses to destinations all over the world, Brian is self-employed but retained by Lambourn-based shipping agents Luck Greayer.

His work is year round with racing and breeding operations taking place somewhere in the world at all times. When the Journal caught up with him, Brian was in Japan but getting set to head for his next destination in the Middle East with horses for this week's Saudi Cup meeting in Riyadh.

The go-to groom for most of Newmarket's top trainers, including champion trainers John Gosden, Sir Michael Stoute and the late Henry Cecil, he has been responsible over the past 38 years for the welfare in transit of some of the world's most valuable racehorses as well as mares and foals and yearlings.

He was born and bred in Newmarket and shares his name with his father, 1974 Derby-winning jockey Brian Taylor who died in 1984 following a tragic accident while riding in Hong Kong.

Shortlisted in the Stud Staff award category is Noel Challinor, who has been stud groom at Northmore Stud in Exning for the past 20 years.

He moved to England from South Africa with his former wife aiming to get a better education for their children and went to work first at the Swinburn family's Genesis

Green Stud at Wickhambrook before taking his current post with Northmore owner and manager Sue Trivass.

The busy stud does not stand a stallion but permanently houses about 30 mares plus foals and yearlings and takes in an influx of another 50, most of which will foal at Northmore before visiting stallions at other local studs during the breeding season between mid-February and June.

Mrs Trivass said that Noel's work goes far beyond handling the valuable bloodstock as he can turn his hand to everything which needs doing on the stud except office work.

The winners and runners up for the awards and their yards or studs will receive a share of the £128,500 prize money, while the overall Employee of the Year will share £30,000 with his or her workplace.