Day At The Track

BHRC, STAGBI & Trot Britain awards celebrated

01:00 AM 19 Dec 2018 NZDT
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Ng commentator Stephen Lees (right) calling the Crock of Gold Final replay after being presented with his first pair of binoculars by the BHRC. With him is Host Darren Owens
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Kids Club Series young drivers (L-R Jake Podmore, Terry Allen Jnr & Charley-Ann Elvin)
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Ian Pimlott (left) presenting the Nicholson family with their Trot Britain awards for John Henry Nicholson (driver, second right), John Nicholson (trainer, right) and their horse DIAMANT DE GODREL, leading Trotteur Francais in the UK
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STAGBI Director & Administrator Gwenan Thomas (centre) presenting John & Grethe Wright (left) and Gareth & Emma Price (right) with Breeders Awards. Grethe Wright (Rhyds Stud), breeder of multiple award winners and owner of Sire Stakes Leading Stallion HA
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Host Sarah Thomas, STAGBI President
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Host Darren Owen showing his patriotic side
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Guests at the BHRC, STAGBI & Trot Britain Awards dinner
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All the trophies for the BHRC, STAGBI & Trot Britain Awards dinner
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People's Choice winner RHYDS PASSION's connections - owner/trainer Sally Teeboon (centre) and driver Richard Haythornthwaite (right) with BHRC Chairman
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Host Sarah Thomas interviewing Tim Tetrick Driver of the Year award winner Lauren Moran
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BHRC Chairman Roy Sheedy (right) presenting the first Lifetime Achievement award to driver Steve Lees (second right) with his family
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BHRC Chairman Roy Sheedy (right) presenting trophies to Leading Owner Raymond Huschka (left), Leading Trainer Alexis Laidler and Leading Driver, William 'Rocker' Laidler
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Kids Club Series winner Jake Podmore being presented his awards by BHRC Leading Driver William 'Rocker' Laidler
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Haydock, UK - On Friday 30th November, members of the UK harness racing fraternity converged upon the Mercure Hotel, Haydock, to celebrate the breeders, owners, trainers, drivers and horses who had excelled during the 2018 racing season.

The evening was hosted by respected Thoroughbred and Standardbred commentator Darren Owen and STAGBI President Sarah Thomas, who have proven to be a popular double act throughout the 2018 season with their Facebook live racing previews and reviews at various fixtures across the UK.

The awards were split into three sections: the STAGBI awards, which focus on the breeders of the winning-most horses in the three regions (England, Scotland and Wales), breeders of Sire Stakes divisional winners, breeders of selected Group 1 and prestigious races and the owners of the STAGBI Future Broodmares winning mares.

Also wasthe Trot Britain awards, for owners, trainers and drivers of the most successful Trotteur Francais (French Trotters) imported under the Le Trot scheme; and the BHRC awards, for the various category winners, leading horse, owner, trainer and driver on wins, and Lifetime Achievement awards.

The event culminated with the Tim Tetrick-sponsored Drive of the Year award, voted on by members of the public globally from a shortlist of six drives selected by a panel (Darren Owen, Sarah Thomas and BHRC Vice Chairman Jim McInally) and the coveted People's Choice award, which replaced the previous Horse of the Year award and was open to a public vote from the eight BHRC category winners (2YO Colt, 2YO Filly, 3YO Colt, 3YO Filly, Mare, Pacer, Overseas & Trotter of the Year).

As per the 2017 staging of the event, the voice of harness racing Mr Roger Huston himself welcomed guests to the venue, having sent a pre-recorded video introduction, in addition to a number of congratulatory messages for the winners. This year, Heather Wilder also featured alongside Roger, having visited Ireland for the Vincent Delaney Memorial for the second time with husband Mike in August, with both making a big impression on UK harness racing fans.

The STAGBI awards were presented by Gwenan Thomas, STAGBI Director and Administrator, with STAGBI giving back over £15,000 in breeders prizes and racing prize money for 2018. STAGBI also announced on the night that 2019 will see a change in format for the Future Broodmares races which have proven to be a massive success over the past few seasons, with the introduction of a grand final to be staged at York Harness Raceway in October of next year.

A Young Person's Award has also been finalised which will act as a grant scheme for young people within harness racing to access funds to further their education, training or experience with the hope that this will enhance and improve harness racing in the UK.

The Trot Britain awards were presented by Trot Britain committee member and veteran driver Ian Pimlott, with the Trotteur Francais Horse of the Year DIAMANT DE GODREL being celebrated both in the UK and France on the same night. Fellow committee members Dr Jack Dowie and Bill Green were present at Vincennes to collect the award on behalf of connections, who picked up a number of awards from all three organisations in Haydock.

The BHRC awards were presented by BHRC Chairman Roy Sheedy who returns for his fifth term at the helm of the UK harness racing organisation, whilst continuing to train and drive winners from his base in south Wales.

One of the main highlights of the evening was the announcement of the Lifetime Achievement award, which garnered the loudest cheers from those in attendance, as Steve Lees was unveiled as the first recipient of this new award.

A native of Wales, Lees drove his first winner in 1975 when he was 16. Forty years later, in 2015, he was crowned the leading driver at the annual Tregaron Festival in Wales. He was the first British driver to compete in the WDC in 1985 and his second-placed performance led to his picking up catch drives in Australia and a return invitation to the WDC tournament in 1987. He also represented his country in 1991 and 1997.

Steve was honoured by the BHRC as leading driver in Britain from 1987-1990, 1995, 1998 and 2003. As Sarah Thomas said in her introduction of the award, Steve Lees is the closest the UK has ever been to producing a World Champion and in order for someone to do better, they will actually have to win the World Driving Championship.

Steve was joined for his presentation by wife, Lisa, daughter Kellie and son Stephen, an aspiring young commentator. Not to be outdone by his father, Stephen was celebrated earlier in the evening for his commentaries during the BHRC Kids Club races which were launched in 2018.

Following a special message from his idol, Roger Huston, Stephen was invited to commentate on a muted version of the Crock of Gold Final which was played on screen in front of the crowd alongside Darren [Owen], who called the actual race in September. Stephen was also presented with his first pair of binocular, a commentator's greatest tool, by Darren on behalf of the BHRC.

Leading driver William 'Rocker' Laidler was on hand to present the young competitors from the Kids Club Series with their mementos from the series - a collection of photos from their races - as well as the trophy for the overall series winner, which was Jake Podmore with his pony Star. Viccy Elvin received the 'Most Embarassing Parent' chalice for her endeavours supporting daughter Charley-Ann and her pony Elvis A-Ha.

Rocker Laidler returned to the stage later in the evening alongside wife Alexis, as the duo collected the Leading Driver and Trainer awards respectively alongside their main owner, Raymond Huschka, who received the Leading Owner award. This was Alexis Laidler's eleventh Leading Trainer title in 12 seasons, with husband Rocker taking the honours on the other occasion to make it 12 straight years of Laidler dominance in the sport.

The 2018 season was another stellar year for the team, taking out four Group 1 races - Appleby Whit Monday Final (Jack Swagger), Park Lodge Final at Aberystwyth (Springhill Glory), Welsh Classic Final at Tregaron (Teatime Preacher) and the Crock of Gold Final (Evenwood Sonofagun), as well as numerous other major handicap events and multiple stakes races. Their charges Rhyds Sapphire, Matticulous and Evenwood Sonofagun scored the 3YO Filly, 3YO Colt and Pacer of the Year honours respectively, and trotter Valseur Du Cygne was awarded Aged Horse of the Year in the Trot Britain segment also.

The two awards remaining at the end of the night which were to be revealed to all in the room were the Drive of the Year award and the People's Choice award.

This was the third year that USA's Tim Tetrick has kindly sponsored the Drive of the Year award, and it was Lauren Moran from Stirling, Scotland, with the drive on her family-owned Vyrnwy Smoke at Corbiewood which took the lion's share of the vote and saw the first Scottish and first female driver receive the gifts from Tim.

For the People's Choice award, the public vote went the way of Rhyds Passion, winner of the Mare of the Year category for the second time running. This topped off an incredible season for the mare who recorded wins at three of the four 'crown jewel' two day festivals, including both heat and final of the Famous Musselburgh Pace, as well a STAGBI Future Broodmares race at Tir Prince and a heat of the Crock of Gold in Free For All company.

The evening was a great success and partying went on late into the night - thanks to all who attended and well done to all of the award winners. 

by Sarah Thomas, for Harnesslink

Full list of winners:



Breeders Premium (Wales) - WOODSTONE JINGO (A Price), RHYDS PASSION (G Wright) DERNOL YANKEE (E Wozencraft)

Breeders Premium (Scotland) - ROBHALL (H Muirhead & A Hay), AYR HERO (H O'Neil), EASY COMPANY (J Gilvear)

Breeders Premium (England) - SECOND AFFAIR (P Mather), ROBYN CAMDEN (Camden Stud), COOL ICE (N Holgate)

Breeders Premium (Brightwells) - RHYDS PASSION, COOL ICE, HABBERLEY HASTE (S William)

Sire Stakes Breeders Bonus - 2YO Filly - TWO LEFT FEET (G Brown), 3YO Colt - MATTICULOUS (G Price), 3YO Filly - RHYDS REFLECTION (G Wright), 4YO Mare - RHYDS HOKEY COKEY (G Wright), 4YO COLT/GELDING - RHYDS ROCK STAR (G Wright), Leading Stallion - HASTY HALL (G Wright)

Breeders Bonus Selected Races - LOOSECHANGE (H Muirhead), CRACK A SMILE (G Price), RHYDS ROCK STAR (G Price), EVENWOOD SONOFAGUN (J Nicholson), LAKESIDE PAN (M John)

Group 1 Races - JACK SWAGGER (J Greenhorn), MATTICULOUS (G Price), RHYDS PASSION (G Wright), RHYDS DESIGN (G Wright), AYR HERO (H O'Neil)

Trot Britain

3YO Trainer of the Year - JODY FOODY
3YO Driver of the Year - JAK FOODY
3YO Horse of the Year - FABLE DES BROUETS

4YO Horse of the Year - ÉCLAIR DU TORP

4YO Trainer of the Year - MIKE EVANS
Mare of the Year - ENEZ LEMAN

Aged Horse of the Year - VALSEUR DU CYGNE

Aged Horse Driver of the Year - JOHN HENRY NICHOLSON
4yo Driver of the Year - JOHN HENRY NICHOLSON
Aged Horse Trainer of the Year - JOHN NICHOLSON
Horse of the Year - DIAMANT DE GODREL


2YO Filly of the Year - THE MOCKING JAY


3YO Filly of the Year - RHYDS SAPPHIRE

3YO Colt of the Year - MATTICULOUS

Mare of the Year - RHYDS PASSION

Pacer of the Year - EVENWOOD SONOFAGUN

Trotter of the Year - DIAMANT DE GODREL

Overseas Horse of the Year - ROBYN CAMDEN



Leading Trainer - ALEXIS LAIDLER

Leading Driver - WILLIAM LAIDLER

Posthumous Lifetime Achievement - BILLY WILLIAMS

Lifetime Achievement - STEVE LEES

Drive of the Year - LAUREN MORAN

People's Choice - RHYDS PASSION

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