2021 Finalists

Strapper of the Year

2021 Finalists

Sydney Strapper of the Year 2020-2021

The finalists for the 2020-21 Sydney Strapper of the Year award have been announced. Now in its 12th 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 is sponsored by Racing NSW and co-ordinated by Australian Racing Christian Chaplaincy.

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 the short-list of finalists listed below (along with comments from their stable).

The winner will be announced on Monday October 11 during the live broadcast of the Australian Racehorse of the Year awards on Sky Thoroughbred Central.

Adam Dowling (Kylie Gavenlock stable)

Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Go For Gold, Cream Rises, Dashing And Daring, Once Were Wild.

It is with great pride that I nominate “Guru” Adam Dowling for the strapper of the year.

In the 23 years he has worked for me he has had but one sick day. Rain, hail or shine, he arrives on time for work willing and very able to perform any task set for him.

He is a very capable and accomplished horseman, having ridden trackwork and breakers for me for many years. He is totally honest and reliable with a fantastic work ethic. He is a good family man and a model citizen in every way.

I think he deserves an award of this kind to really let him know how much I appreciate his consistent effort, his wonderful friendship and support. He has been and is to this day my right- and left-hand man.

Alana Lodge (Mark Newnham stable)

Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Spirit Ridge, I Am Power, Harmony Rose, Lord Olympus, Bargain.

Alana is a very confident stablehand/strapper in the Mark Newnham stable who is dedicated 100% to her job. Alana has been in the industry all her working life and can be called upon to do any task asked of her in the stable without any hesitation.

She is always eager to take horses to the races as she treats them all as if they were her own children. Alana has been entrusted with a lot of our Group horses at the races eg Spirit Ridge, Harmony Rose and Bargain.

Not only these horses but all horses in her care are always given lots of TLC and I’m sure if she could take them home she would.

Alana’s dedication to the Mark Newnham Racing stable and the racing industry in general is one that a lot of people could look up to.

Amber Edmeads (John Sargent stable)

Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Four Moves Ahead, Brandenburg, House Of Cartier.

Amber brings a wealth of horse experience to her role within the stable having spent time in both the UK and New Zealand before arriving in Australia to continue working with horses. Amber possesses a very strong level of dedication and passion toward not only the horses in her care but to her responsibilities and is constantly going above and beyond what is expected of her (for example Amber has come back after hours to unload horses who have arrived back well past stable operational hours to ensure that all arrival duties are carried out and the horse is relaxed within its stable).

On a daily basis Amber is responsible for running the yard while the trainer is attending to the track riders in the hut – this comes with demanding responsibilities. However, Amber is someone that is always calm and is able to prioritise and delegate as required to ensure that the morning schedule sticks to allocated times set by the trainer. Along with her nominal duties Amber can also be found saddling up horses for track riders, ensuring that track work gear is correct, washing horses, putting horses on/off walker, and assisting staff as required. As required Amber is also one that will assist in the office when the Racing Secretary is away to ensure that all the back-end tasks are completed, this is also done on top of her nominal duties, on top of this Amber can also ride track work when required (i.e. Staff away etc), this makes her a very valuable member of the team.

Amber is very approachable and her ability to think on her feet sees her looked up to by younger and new staff within the stable.

Amber always goes above and beyond in all that she does, anytime that Amber attends the races she always represents the stable in a very professional manner and presents the horses in great condition. Due to Amber’s dedication and commitment to her role within the racing industry, other trainers such as Matthew Dale call upon Amber to strap their horses for them when they send them to Randwick as they know that they are in good hands.

Amber is very suitable for this award as she embraces all the responsibilities and commitments that come with attending to racehorses and completing duties as a stable hand. She is committed, dedicated and very passionate about her work, even on the days where she may be struggling herself, she will very rarely let this show.

Blake Maynard (John Thompson stable)

Horses attended in Sydney this season: Dreamforce, Xtremetime and Baranof.

Blake Maynard has been a stable hand at John Thompson Racing for 5 years having previously worked for Peter Moody at Randwick.

Blake is tireless in his work and ever-reliable – rain, hail or shine we can count on Blake! He is also eager to learn and take on extra responsibilities. Blake is friendly and jovial and gets along well with everyone he meets.

Blake is highly regarded for his laid-back and casual demeanour. One of his most valuable assets is his ability to settle hard-to-handle horses. He is always given the more difficult individuals to care for at home and the races. His slow and steady approach is a great asset to our team.

Blake is a deserved contender for the Sydney Strapper of the Year and we are pleased to support his nomination. Good luck Blake!

Clare Heuston (Chris Waller stable)

Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Fiesta, Saigon, Wairere Falls.

Clare has been with Chris Waller Racing for 12 years and is a foreman for a barn at the Rosehill stables where she oversees the welfare and day to day health and wellbeing of these horses. She also has a number of young horses in her barn and her experience and horse management ensures a smooth transition into the stable, as well as ensures the horses continue to be well educated. Clare is more than capable of taking any horse to the races to strap whether it be a filly, or a colt or a relaxed, or highly strung horse but this is often overshadowed by her foreman roles at the provincials.

Not only is she one of the longer serving staff members having been a barn foreman for a number of years, but she also has the thankless job of cleaning, ironing, sorting and ensure the right colours go to the races for each horse. As you will be aware, I have this season alone in NSW had over 1000 runners and for one person to be in charge of all of those colours is something that I really take my hat off to. Writing this I realise how tiresome this job must be and yet when Clare goes on holiday, she still drives into the stable to deliver the clean colours for race day and collects the dirty colours to be washed. Our colours, without question are always spotless, creaseless and in impeccable order.

Not only does Clare have to worry about the colours, but she also ensures that the right gear is packed into the race day bag as well as each horse’s bridle having attached the relevant gear it requires to ensure that the strappers job is as easy as possible. She also packs a couple of bags of lollies into the colours bag for the jockeys to eat whilst they are wasting in the jockey’s room which is simply out of her own pocket and kindness.

Clare also represents myself on race day as a foreperson and is more than happy to stand down from her foreman duties and strap in the Metropolitan area. She truly loved one of the all-time stable favourites in Catkins and looked after her incredibly well during her fantastic career.

Madelyn Adams (Terry Robinson stable)

Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Art Cadeau, Zardoro, Kings Trust, Lord Desanimaux, Rosierro.

Maddie has a real passion for the racing industry as she has ben around racehorses all her life with her father Brian and her grandfather Kevin Robinson.

Maddie takes pride in looking after race gear and race presentation, bridal paths, manes, tails and coats. Maddie has also been responsible for transport and representation on raceday when I cannot attend and has a great rapport with our jockeys and all my owners.

Maddie also keeps our Facebook page with raceday updates and videos. Maddie is a very valuable member of my team. I wish her all the best.

Rosina Jilla (Brad Widdup stable)

Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Icebath.

For the last four years I’ve been training Rosie has been there every step of the way.

A talented rider of all the equestrian principles Rosie lives for her horses and creates bonds that sees her earn the ultimate respect and trust between rider and horse.

She is hard working and dedicated to caring for each horse within our stables, even those she does not ride. Rosie goes above and beyond to ensure our horses requirements are met on a daily basis, attending race meetings and providing basic education to all horses she comes in contact with so if they move on from racing they have the best chance at moving in to a different discipline if required.

Rosie’s commitment to my stables in unwavering, always happy to ride a couple more or come in on her day off, nothing is ever too much trouble. She is worth her weight in gold and my stables wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t for Rosie’s dedication to her horses.

I acknowledge her contribution to horses like Icebath who she has ridden every day since a yearling.

Steven Binsted (Ryan & Alexiou stable)

Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Peltzer, Steely, Mallory, Mr Mosaic, Never Never River.

Steve is a highly reliable and highly regarded employee at our Rosehill stables, always punctual and well presented. He has great patience and dedication to the thoroughbred and although he is a man of little words around the stables, he just seems to go about his work in a very effective and efficient manner. He has a great “eye” and “feel” for a horse in their early education as to whether they will progress and make above average horses.

All in all, he is a great asset to our stable nad he is highly valued by his peers and also owners who he seems to have a great rapport with.

Sushil Kumal (Matthew Smith stable)

Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Ashim, Milk Man, Flambeur, Atonement, Bentley Magic, Corncrake.

Sushil is a highly valued member of our staff at Matthew C. Smith Racing.

He has a very kind and gentle manner which is very calming with both the horses and his colleagues alike. His attention to detail and communication skills are second to none.

Sushil takes great pride in his work and cares very much about each individual horse in our stable. He is excellent at treating any ailments and knows if something is not quite right with a horse.

A fantastic member of our senior staff, wonderful role model for younger staff and our “go-to” man.

Congratulations to all the finalists!


2020Graeme WILSONKris Lees
2019Alexandra MAHERJohn O’Shea
2018Lindy WHAREKURAPeter & Paul Snowden
2017Riharna THOMSONDryden / Collings
2016Iftikhar ALIChris Waller
2016Vicki SZECSODIBjorn Baker
2014George TUCKERChris Waller
2013Glenn BARNESChris Waller
2012Skye SMALLEYGuy Walter
2011Michael DOOLANPeter Snowden
2010Melissa WILLIAMSJohn O’Shea