2017 Finalists

Strapper of the Year

2017 Finalists

The finalists for the 2016-17 Sydney Strapper of the Year award have been announced. Now in its seventh year, this award endeavours to recognise the behind-the-scenes efforts by those strappers that tend to go beyond the call of duty.

The award, sponsored by Racing NSW and co-ordinated by Australian Racing Christian Chaplaincy, will be presented at NSW Racing’s Night of Champions at Royal Randwick on Thursday, 17 August 2017.

The award is peer-nominated with strappers that have worked at metropolitan race meetings being invited to nominate who they think is deserving of the award.

A selection panel of Racing NSW officials choose the winner from a short-list of eight finalists and they are:-

Alva Prendergast (Bjorn Baker stable)

Alva is one if the best horse handlers we have, not only does she ride 10 horses a morning but she can also be seen all over the countryside representing the stable. She is always one of the first through the door in the morning with a smile on her face. Most importantly, she is kind to the horses and has a genuine love of racing. There is no one I could recommend more for this award.

Anthony Rosta (Lee Curtis stable)

Anthony is known as ‘stud’ around the tracks and is a much loved character. He is ‘part of the furniture’ at Rosehill. He is an extremely reliable member of our team. Anthony never takes sick days, never asks for holidays. We have to send him off when he is unwell or due for a break. The only time we can recall Anthony asking for a day off in his 21 years of employment was following the passing of his father. This dedication is second to none!

Anthony is especially good with nervous horses. On many occasions he has been seen spending extra time after work building relationships with those horses – giving them the extra time and attention to help accustom them to their new stable life.

Stud loves his horses and is very proud of his job.

Britt McDonald (Hawkes stable)

Britt has been an asset to our stable since commencing employment with us 8 years ago. She is one of our leading trackwork riders and has progressed up the ladder becoming one of our foreman. Her horse handling skills are exceptional and she is called upon as our travelling foreman to accompany horse interstate and overseas to major carnivals. Britt has been our main trackwork rider for many good horses which include Star Turn, Inference, Leebaz, Maluckyday, Niwot, Euro Angel and of course Chatauqua. Britt is Chatauqua’s personal slave – she accompanied him to Hong Kong where he had one of his greatest achievements. She can always be called upon to step up when needed and we are very fortunate to have someone of her calibre on our staff.

Cherie Marsham (Kris Lees stable)

Cherie has been an important member of our stables for many years now. She has a remarkable work ethic as she attends several race meetings per week, driving the float to the races, saddling the horses and presenting horse in great order.

Cherie also runs our 2YO barn and cares for the Group 1 star Le Romain. Cherie goes above and beyond in her care of the horse and can often be found late in to the night ensuring her horse are ready for the next day.

Cherie is and will be a key member of our staff now and into the future.

Jimmy Irani (Gary Portelli stable)

Jimmy is an extremely dedicated strapper and has shown excellent skills while working at Portelli Racing. He has strapped two Golden Slipper winners which just goes to show his hard-working, reliable and exceptional manner with both horses and the team are well recognized. We could not recommend Jimmy more highly as deserving of this award.

Mark Forster (Snowden stable)

Mark is quiet an thoughtful an extremely hard working. Genuinely liked by all members of the Snowden Racing team, he is early to the stable every morning and never has a day off. He takes a quiet approach to the horses and easily handles any difficult colts or young horses.

Mark goes above and beyond everyday to ensure his allocated horses are looked after to the highest standard. He follows all instructions to the letter and is always happy to lend an extra hand when needed, even if it is his rostered day off, or is after normal stable hours.

Riharna Thomson (Dryden/Collings stable)

Riharna came to our stables (Canberra & Goulburn) with a desire to become an extremely confident stable hand/trackwork rider. In the first 12 months her trackwork progressed from slow work to full fast trackwork. Nor only did she ride extremely well but her effort around the stables was outstanding, where she progressed to us submitting (Feb 2017) to Racing NSW for her to be promoted to stable foreperson. i cannot recall her ever being late for duties or having a sick leave. On many occasions after returning from interstate raceday engagements late in the evening, she would not leave the stables until travelling horses were bedded down and having prepared the race gear bag for meetings held on the next day. On another occasion I had instructed my foreperson to inform Riharna, I wished for another staff member to travel to interstate races for the next 2 weeks, as I felt she was being required to be undertaking too much travel. Within 10 minutes of being informed, Riharna came to my office asking if she had done something wrong. It was in her nature to give our stables 100% at all times.

While being the outstanding employee she was, she still found time to undertake a 4 year university course in Politics part-time.

I can honestly state Riharna was one of the most loyal and outstanding employees i have employed ion my 30 years as a trainer and I recommend that she be considered highly for this award.

Suzy Horvath (Waterhouse / Bott stable)

Suzy has been an essential part of Gai Waterhouse/Adrian Bott Racing for the past 16 years. Her work ethic, communication skills, attention to detail and the way she presents her horses is second to none. She has an admirable temperament that is displayed especially when new people start and she takes them under her wing and takes time to show them the ropes. She is fantastic with the younger horses or horses that are nervous and need time. She has a soft and calming influence on the staff and the horses that she works with. She is an asset to the industry and we are very lucky to have her. Suzy also works on Sundays when the stables are open and she greets our owners when they arrive and represents the stable well when dealing with our clientele.

Congratulations to all the finalists!


2015Vicki SZECSODIBjorn Baker
2014George TUCKERChris Waller
2013Glenn BARNESChris Waller
2012Skye SMALLEYGuy Walter
2011Michael DOOLANPeter Snowden
2010Melissa WILLIAMSJohn O’Shea