Newmarket's Joanna Lacisz named as top rider/groom in the annual Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff awards
It may not have been the usual glittering affair at a top London hotel but this year’s virtual ceremony to mark the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff awards still proved a night to remember for Newmarket stablelass Joanna Lacisz.
Joanna, who works for royal trainer Sir Michael Stoute at his Beech Hurst yard in Bury Road, was named rider/groom of the year and picked up a £5,000 prize plus another £5,000 to be shared among her colleagues.
The 32 year old who came to England from her native Poland four years ago said she was ‘so happy’ to win the award, for everyone at Beech Hurst who had all been saddened by the death of Sir Michael’s partner Coral Pritchard-Gordon in August.
After gaining a degree in animal science at university in Warsaw, when she specialised in racehorse breeding and training, Joanna worked for some years at an Arabian stud and went on to break and ride horses for private owners.
“At one stable, there were also racehorses and I used to ride one or two lots. That was when I fell in love with racing,” she said.
In Warsaw, horses are trained, American-style, in barns beside the racecourse and Joanna got a job with a trainer, who gave her the opportunity to ride in a few races.
“I thought to myself that if I wanted to work with racehorses it should be in the UK and if it was in the UK it should be in Newmarket,” said Joanna who arranged, through a friend, for a month’s trial at Beech Hurst.
“I knew if I didn’t give it a try I would regret it for the rest of my life, so in January 2017 I made the journey to England,” said Joanna.
The highlight of her career came within two years after she put her name down to look after a colt from Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms which no-one else in the yard wanted.
Named Expert Eye, he won valuable races in this country before going on to take the 2018 Breeders Cup Mile, a triumph she witnessed first hand after accompanying ‘her’ horse to Churchill Downs.
Joanna rated that event as the best day in her life but one which may now be rivalled by her victory in Monday’s awards.
Other Newmarket-based staff who were runners-up after being shortlisted for awards were Alex Cairns who works for James Fanshawe, in the Leadership category, Martin Languillet of Fittocks Stud in the Stud Staff award and Guianand Bissessur (William Haggas) and Debbie Howie (John Gosden) in the Dedication section.
Each of them won £2,000 with a further £2,000 going to their yard or stud.
Overall winner of the 2021 Employee of the Year and £10,000 was Rebecca Edmunds, head girl to Thirsk-based trainer Bryan Smart.