It's been 3 months since we announced that our dedicated work rider Jamie Bunsell had been nominated for this year's Godolphin stud and stable staff awards, and it feels like forever since we found out that Jamie had made the final. But, after much anticipation, the day of the awards finally came around this week.
The prestigious awards, now in their 13th year, are set up to recognise and reward the hard work of British Horseracing's stud and stable staff employees. They are run by the British Horseracing Association and generously sponsored by Godolphin and in association with the Racing Post.
Jamie was entered into the Rider/Groom award, which is for those who have shown a talent for horsemanship, consistency and reliability in and out of the saddle and who have achieved something outstanding in the 2016 season. Jamie was nominated for his outstanding work ethic and enthusiasm, but also the fantastic work he has done with Un Beau Roman this year, which lead to a Cheltenham win back in November.
We found out Jamie had made the final 10 back in December, and then in January, we found out he'd been selected into the final 3. And we are pleased to announce to those of you who don't already know, that at a lavish awards ceremony, held at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower hotel in London on Monday, Jamie won his category, picking up the award from Richard Johnson.
After the presentation, it was off to do a couple of quick interviews before the real celebrations could start!
It's a real achievement to win one of these prestigious awards and we are all really happy to see all the hard work and enthusiasm Jamie has put into the sport over the years recognised. He's a credit to horse racing. Well done Jamie!
Thanks to Godolphin, the BHA and Racing Post for supporting the men and women who put their heart and soul into racing behind the scenes, and for a fantastic evening.
Paul himself made the nomination and shared his own personal thoughts on Jamie. You can read the full nomination below:
"I'd first worked with Jamie at David Elsworth's 15 years ago when he was a young lad. He has worked for me for the past four years and in that time he has always been on time and has worked hard throughout that period.
Jamie is an exceptional rider and is able to ride even the most difficult pullers . This came to the fore when last season 'Un Beau Roman' got very keen and wound up at home and this transmitted in his races. Wayne Hutchinson rode the horse at Kempton and won and then rode him a few months later and commented that he was not the same horse. He was much too free and was rushing his fences . Jamie rides the horse every day and has kept him relaxed for the last six months. The horse became a lot more switched off and I was able to train him in a relaxed manner. He then went on to win first time out this season at Cheltenham, giving the yard its biggest ever win. He took the horse to the races, prepared him and also won best turned out.
Jamie takes many horses racing and puts in the hard work to prepare them and keep them relaxed at the races. He is particularly good at handling young horses and he often wins best turned out. Although he wins the money he is happy to pool it and share it amongst the other lads in the yard at Christmas time as he appreciates that the conditioning of the horses is a team effort.
I remember one time in the summer when one lad was injured and another lad was on a course, another lad's mother was gravely ill, Jamie came into work early, rode through his break and finished late riding seven lots when we normally ride three to four. He was happy to put in the hard work in order to get the yard through this difficult couple of weeks. He never complained. I believe he was happy to put himself out in order to help his mates whilst they were unable to work.
Colin Tizzard came to the yard one day and watched my horses up the gallops. He saw Jamie and said hello and turned to me and said "he's a good lad that Jamie". I think it is known throughout the industry that he is a good honest worker and an exceptional rider.
All the owners appreciate his hard work and easy going nature which obviously transmits through to the horses he's riding. He has been known to sing (terribly) whilst riding particularly difficult horses but it seems to do the trick. He has a great sense of humour which is obviously required in this job and although he is famed for his dreadful one-liners, our 9 and 11-year-old daughters think his jokes are great. As a family man with three young children of his own, he has remained committed to his life in racing whilst also being a dedicated father. In his own words, he has said on more than one occasion that he is never happier than sitting on the back of a horse.
We are only a small yard but Jamie plays a key part in keeping the team together and motivated. I and my team have no hesitation in nominating Jamie for this prestigious award."