Sydney Strapper of the Year 2021-2022
The finalists for the 2021-22 Sydney Strapper of the Year award have been announced. Now in its 13th 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 at the NSW Racehorse Owners Association’s prestigious “Night of Champions” on Thursday 25 August.
Congratulations to all the finalists!
Ayaka Ikeuchi (Chris Waller stable)
Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Solar Apex, Za Ceibas.
Ayaka Ikeuchi would be a thoroughly deserving winner of this award as she is the shining example for all staff in our large stable. She is punctual, takes her responsibility of running a 20-horse barn seriously and professionally, and she has perfect attention to detail.
While this can be said for multiple of the staff I am lucky to have, what sets Ayaka apart is her constant positivity. She does everything with a smile and the utmost respect. This, in turn, has won her the respect of her peers.
She is the embodiment of the perfect culture any employer would look to create within their business. Her work ethic and hunger to learn will ensure she continues to progress and thrive in this industry and therefore continue to set this fine example. She is the perfect role model and would wear this award humbly, yet proudly.
Brendan Potts (Joe Pride stable)
Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Shalatin, Stockman, Party For One, Private Spade.
Brendan came to Joe’s with no experience but from early on Joe could see his potential and he progressed quite quickly to becoming one of our head foremen.
Now Brendan has many roles within the Pride Racing team: from organising the staff roster, care of the horses, communicating with suppliers and transport as well as representing the stable on race days both here and interstate.
Brendan’s greatest quality would have to be his work ethic. He is always first in and last out. The work he does behind the scenes does not go unnoticed by Joe Pride or any the staff. He knows each horse inside and out and he takes great pride in ensuring all horses are turned out to a high level. We would also like to commend Brendan’s organisation and leadership skills as they allow the stable to run efficiently each morning.
Callum Bailey (Rod Bailey stable)
Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Triple Ace, High Court, Darleb, Countofmontecristo, McCormack, Miss Redoble, Rifles.
Callum loves his horses and is very dedicated to his job and to the industry. Callum is always willing to lend a hand to anyone who needs it and is very widely respected.
As well as a full morning at trackwork, he will afterwards do some breaking, and then go and strap at race meetings where he is highly sought after by many trainers because of his skill and professionalism.
This was especially important during the covid zoning restrictions when stable staff could not travel with their horses to the races. Callum’s ability to handle any horse, even those he not met before, was invaluable to trainers who knew they could totally rely on him on to care for their horse. Some stables were so impressed with him that they continue to use him on racedays even though they have many staff of their own.
Camille Houlgatte (Paul Perry stable)
Horses attended in Sydney this season: Skylab, Pandano, Cruel Summer, Olympic Gaze, Forecaster.
Camille is a reliable, hard-working employee. She is punctual and trustworthy. She is also very knowledgeable. Over the years Camille has accepted advice and therefore has continued to learn and has become one of my biggest assets at the stables.
She does just about everything at the stables except drive the truck. She also rides trackwork, and will often represent the stable on racedays, saddling up the horses and liaising with owners. It would be hard to manage without her. She is an excellent candidate for Strapper of the Year.
Eileen Davis (Cody Morgan stable)
Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Anethole, Edit, Casino Lord, Highlights.
Eileen has been an integral part of Cody Morgan Racing going on 4 years now. She came to us a shy stablehand when I had 18 in work, she is now my number one and a major part of climbing to 45 horses in our stable.
Her horsemanship and attention to detail is second to none, coming in early or staying back late to ensure all the horses have had their share of tending to. She will often work extra shifts to be able to attend race meets as strapping is what she enjoys most. Unlike her city counter parts, being a strapper in the country is hours and hours spent in the truck and on the road. I can honestly say with confidence there isn’t a horse I wouldn’t trust her with, she truly has a gift with these equine athletes, strapping horses that wouldn’t have made it through the parade and onto the track safely without her calm and experienced demeanour.
While others in the industry may have utilized programs and steppingstones to improve their career, Eileen wasn’t afforded these opportunities and instead, with a love and passion for racing, managed it all on her own. There is no better feeling than watching someone flourish into the best version of themselves as a part of my team. I remember the time one of her favourite horses, Anethole, won the Hunter and Northwest Country Championship Qualifier and when he hit the front and crossed the line first she burst into tears, to me that’s what racing is about.
Ian Smith (Annabel Neasham stable)
Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Mr Hussill, Commando Hunt, Washington Towers, Itz Lily, Samoot, Strange Charm, Triple Ace, I Say Hello, Handle the Truth, Dream Runner.
Ian Smith (better known as Ginger) works for many different stables on racedays, particularly for the country and provincial trainers who don’t have sufficient staff available to send to the races.
And this season, during the covid zoning restrictions, the role of the raceday strapper really came into its own, with Ian not just strapping on race day but often standing in for the trainer as well.
He is a skilled horseman who can handle any horse and is always extremely professional in the way he conducts himself. He is also a thorough gentleman and greets everyone with a smile and will go out of his way to say G’day.
Ian looks out for everyone and is always ready to lend a hand to anyone in need. It is never surprising to find him helping someone who is struggling with an unruly horse or assisting other stables to saddle up their horses in addition to caring for his own horses.
He is always encouraging to others and is particularly so to younger stable staff who are learning the ropes. His horsemanship, his easy-going demeanour and his generous attitude have earnt him great respect far and wide.
Rajesh Kumar (Matthew Dale stable)
Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Five Kingdom, Cavalier Charles, Devil’s Triangle, Fourmadec, Mossman Gorge, Molly Nails, Penthouse, Toretto.
Raj is foreman at our Canberra based stables. He is a very reliable member of our team, extremely hard working and shows great attention to detail.
He is an excellent horseman and is absolutely committed to his horses and his job. He arrives an hour before everyone else to get things ready and is there all day long.
Raj is a vital part of the MJ Dale Racing team and we think he is a great candidate for Strapper of the Year.
Shane Murphy (Ryan & Alexiou stable)
Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Ellsberg, Standout, High Blue Sea, Reggiewood.
Shane has been a loyal and integral staff member for the team for over 22 years.
He has strapped some high-quality horses over this time, but the one known to most would be G1 winning and champion Stallion Snitzel.
Shane plays and essential role in the day to day running of our stables and oversees the feeding regimes of all our horses making sure they’re all as happy and as healthy as can be.
He is extremely punctual and works in with the rest of the team extremely well and is a very kind and astute horseman. We believe Shane deserves the recognition this nomination brings with it.
Stevie-Lee Habib (Peter & Paul Snowden stable)
Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Mirra Vision, Exoboom, Mirra View, Tashi, Mishka Magic, Hot Press, Woolombi, Pierossa, Winnertakesall, Arale.
Stevie-Lee has a strong work ethic and is always a team player who goes above and beyond to assist the team in all aspects of the stable in making sure the horses are immaculate at all times. She is reliable and always full of enthusiasm for her job. Stevie-Lee’s presentation is always respectable when representing the team at races or barrier trials.
Stevie-Lee has looked after some special horses for the stable, particularly Mirra Vision who has gone on to win the Group 3 Angst Stakes at Royal Randwick, and Exoboom who went on to win the 2021 Hawkesbury Guineas. She has been fortunate to look after these horses who have been in races such as The Gong; Group 1 Coolmore Classic and The Golden Eagle.
Her ability with the horses under her care is excellent and winning this award would mean the world to her, for recognition and achievement in her career for years of hard work and dedication to the racing industry.
Tyson King (Matthew Dunn stable)
Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Green Reign, Yamazaki, Subterranean, Desert Mist.
Tyson King is a true horseman. His knowledge and understanding of horses and their needs, particularly in difficult situations, are a very good example of how the horse racing industry has evolved in recent times to acknowledge the actual needs of the beautiful animals that provide us with so much joy. He treats each horse as an individual, adapting his approach according to its personality.
Tyson is Foreman at our stables. He is honest, reliable, hardworking, great with the staff and the horses, is always happy, firm, and fair with his leadership, and has a great work ethic all round.
Tyson is a credit to himself, our business, and racing as a whole.