Sydney Strapper of the Year
The finalists for the 2022-23 Sydney Strapper of the Year award have been announced. Now in its 14th 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 31 August.
Congratulations to all the finalists!
Ashlee Hampton-Yates (Robert & Luke Price stable)
Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Our Bellagio Miss, Welsh Legend, Victory Lane, Verbex, Cuban Royale, Brave Agenda.
Ashley is a pleasant, bubbly and enthusiastic young lady who works well with the other staff and has a happy disposition with her fellow workers.
She is a very capable horsewoman. She rides track work, is a great strapper who can handle unruly horses and all aspects of being a stablehand.
Ashlee is a well-presented worker who takes pride in her appearance, strapping her horse and keeping the stables tidy. She does a lot of travelling to the races with our horses.
She is a willing worker, always punctual and puts in long hours despite also studying at university. She never lets you down and will stay back to help when needed.
Overall, Ashlee is a wonderful worker to have in our stable, as good workers are very precious and hard to find in our industry. She also has a great love for the horse which is a big plus.
Dixit Kadiyan (Keith Dryden stable)
Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Handle The Truth, Fangela, Sister Moon, Emma’s Gift, Harderthantherest, In De Summertime.
Dixit Kadiyan joined my stables in May 2020 as a casual stablehand. He has since progressed to a fulltime position as my foreman.
He is capable of educating my horses in the barriers, teaching them to swim and supervising their trackwork.
He is always the first person to offer his assistance to attend all race meetings and if he arrives back late from a meeting is at work ready to start next morning at 4 am.
He has attended many meetings in Sydney and NSW as my representative to my owners and has achieved excellent results for my stables.
Dixit is always willing to learn and wishes to become a trainer later in his career.
I would confidently Dixit as an employer to any stable.
Greg Pratt (Team Hawkes stable)
Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Newley Wed, Scorch, Remarque, Cardone.
With a can-do attitude, Greg is willing to do whatever is needed to help the team and is happy to get his hands dirty. He has shown that he is adaptable in an ever-changing environment.
Greg is very skilled in all aspects of the day to day running of the stable, including assisting the vet, mixing the horses feeds and he has been given the responsibility of running the barn in the absence of the foreman.
Greg is well liked by the entire team and has shown a real knack for organising the staff. He is full of ideas about improvements that could be made and always makes himself available if required.
Greg is passionate about horses and racing. He takes wonderful care of his horses and presents them in top shape both at the races and around the barn. He is capable of looking after a range of horses from the yearlings to the older colts, geldings and mares and he is not fazed by even the cheekiest of colts.
Greg has been a real asset to our team since starting with us in August 2022 and we really appreciate his hard work.
Phylisha Doyle (Chris Waller stable)
Horses attended in Sydney this season: Robusto, Hinged, Welwal, Armed Forces.
Phylisha looks after a 20-horse barn at our Rosehill stable and is in charge of our top 40 colts and geldings during trackwork.
She is a very capable horsewomen and will regularly be seen at the races looking after some of our colts and younger horses.
Phylisha has a great work ethic and is always putting her hand up to help; having recently gone over to run our Warwick Farm stable in the absence of our regular foreperson.
She is a very bubbly personality, she always puts a smile on everyone’s faces, and we are very lucky and pleased to have her here.
Rebecca Haill (Paul & Martha Cave stable)
Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Bowery Breeze, True Valentine.
Rebecca should be Strapper of the Year because quite simply she is the best Strapper!
Apart from being capable, talented, hardworking, and dedicated she can transition our horses from freshly broken yearling through to them racing successfully. She handles them so well that many have gone on to lead long fulfilling lives as eventers, show jumpers and general-purpose riding horses after racing.
Rebecca started working for us in 2005 and has developed into an excellent all-round horseperson. She not only rides track work and runs the stable but also still straps at the races. When she does the horses are always presented beautifully.
During her time with us she has trained to become a vet nurse and an equine body worker, putting these skills to use for the benefit of the horses in our care. Her attention to detail is unsurpassed and her excellent memory and record keeping abilities are second to none.
Rebecca’s main focus is on improving performance but she is also able to build a strong connection through her emerging skills as an equine body worker. Incorporating these extra skills, she creates strong bonds with the horses and they develop emotional confidence in her. Her holistic caring approach ensures the horses are prepared for the changing environments they may encounter in their racing careers.
During Rebecca’s time with us, she has travelled extensively interstate and internationally, particularly with a horse called Respect, who won the Queensland and Perth Cups and continued to New Zealand to contest the Wellington Cup. She strapped him, rode trackwork on him, travelled with him and did a fantastic job which was reflected in his success. He was a difficult horse, but they developed a wonderful relationship over the years. Two horses recently who have benefited from her care are McGeehan and Bowery Breeze. Both achieving their best performances as older racehorses thanks to her diligence and attention to detail.
Rebecca’s continued contribution to our stable has been altogether outstanding and very much appreciated. We would dearly like to see Rebecca receive the validation she deserves by winning this prestigious award.
Rowena Dillon (Brett Cavanough stable)
Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Fender, Clifton Springs, Barradas, Sungblue, Tidal Rush, Two Ya Got.
Rowena’s dedication and passion for racing are evident in everything she does. As the overseer of a 70-horse barn, she demonstrates exceptional organizational skills and an unwavering commitment to ensuring the welfare and success of each horse under her care. Her ability to manage such a large number of horses while maintaining their individual needs is truly commendable.
Not only does Rowena direct all trackwork and sometimes ride herself, but she also takes on the responsibility of managing a staff roster for over 20 employees. Her exceptional leadership skills and ability to delegate tasks efficiently, ensure that the stable operates smoothly and efficiently. She serves as a great role model for her colleagues but also as a role model for aspiring strappers.
Rowena’s attention to detail is exemplary, as is her commitment to maintaining a high standard of presentation in the stable, whether it’s grooming the horses, organizing their gear, or ensuring the cleanliness of the barn, she consistently goes above and beyond to ensure that everything is in order.
In addition to her day-to-day responsibilities, Rowena takes charge of driving the horse truck, managing stable returns, horse treatments and overseeing all aspects of the stable’s operations. Her tireless work ethic and ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously make her an invaluable asset to the team and is why she is suitable for Sydney Strapper of the Year award.
Samantha Harris (Sara Ryan stable)
Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Much Much Better, Matcha Latte, So Good So Cool, Money From The Sky, Attractable, Chief Conductor.
Samantha Harris is undoubtedly one of the finest examples of what any trainer would look for in a Strapper/ Foreman .Her work ethic is second to none, and her passion for what she does is inspiring.
Sam treats every horse she come across equally, as if they were her own flesh and blood.
She may only be a small person but her outstanding horsemanship and natural feel around horses makes her such as asset to us and we are incredibly fortunate and grateful to Sam for her integrity, loyalty, and passion she brings to the stable.
She is the ultimate allrounder, running the barn in the morning, strapping at races, riding track work with me and keeping me somewhat sane.
Truly a person in racing that should be celebrated.
Sam is the backbone of our operation, and I would not have achieved the success I have this first full year of training without her by my side.
Steven Carmona (Maher & Eustace stable)
Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Semana, Bat Out Of Hell, Glowing Gold, Denman Star, Kapunda.
Steven “SD” Carmona, 31, father of three & former leading jockey in his resident Philippines has played a key role as trackwork rider since he joined the CMR team in September 2022.
His infectious can-do attitude to life has made him a popular member of the racing community in NSW & his unmistakable smile & trademark magic gloves are well known to many in the race-day tie ups.
Steven is very grateful to have been afforded a place on the 2-year training programme run by Racing NSW.
His favourite horse is Semana who Steven refers to affectionately as his “second wife”. Semana’s progression through the grades is much like Steven’s, as we’ve seen first-hand in the stable how his track riding, horse handling and English-speaking skills have improved out of sight since his move to Sydney.
We at CMR feel very fortunate to have had Steven land on our doorstep and continue to support him with opportunities to advance his knowledge & skills in the racing industry. Steven takes a huge amount of pride on race day. He and his horses are always immaculately turned out, manes combed and feet polished.
He enjoys sharing the race day experience with owners, ensuring syndicate members get value from their days out.
Taylor Ratten (Peter & Paul Snowden stable)
Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Mazu, Paris Dior, Wollombi, Mirra Vision.
Taylor has a strong work ethic, a team player and always reliable. She assists the team in all aspects of the stable in making sure the horses are looking immaculate at all times. Taylor has an infectious personality and always has a positive attitude with a smile on her face every day.
She is a very hard worker, who puts in nearly as many hours as Peter! She is very thorough in everything she does and her attention to detail is outstanding. She is skilful with horses and can handle the biggest and strongest of them capably.
Taylor is always representing the stable at races, or at interstate carnivals taking pride in her horses and always has them presented well. Taylor has a special bond with Mazu, but loves all her horses and gets a massive thrill when they perform well.
Wajid Ali (Michael Freedman stable)
Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Forbidden Love, Blanc De Blanc, Mach Ten, Resistible.
Wajid Ali is a pivotal member of my team having been the Foreman of my Randwick stable prior to my departure to Hong Kong and since returning to Sydney in 2018. Wajid is one of the most skilled horsemen I have encountered in my training career which has spanned over 40 years. His exceptional ability to understand and navigate horses allows me to fully entrust him in the daily management of all horses under my care.
Wajid understands what it takes to prepare a horse in the best possible shape on race day which is why he has been trusted with overseeing some of my best horses in recent times. Wajid was responsible for the day-to-day management of Forbidden Love for the duration of her 29-start career in which she accumulated over $2.2 million in earnings before selling to Yulong for $4.1 million at this year’s Magic Millions National Sale. Not only did he oversee the daily husbandry and management of Forbidden Love, but he was also her daily exercise rider from the time she entered my stable as a yearling. Outside of Forbidden Love, Wajid has played an integral role in the careers of Stay Inside, Blanc De Blanc and Tiger Of Malay among many others. His commitment to ensuring all horses are afforded the best possible treatment is pivotal to my consistent racetrack results which is essential in retaining long-term owners to fuel my business.
Whether the horse is a Group 1 star or an untried maiden, Wajid is passionate about achieving our shared goal of ensuring all horses under my care are afforded the best opportunity of success. Not only does he facilitate this mission himself, but he also instils great pride in his team to work towards the greater goal of the stable. Commencing daily at 3am, he works tirelessly around the clock without complaint and in doing so inspires his team.
My horses and staff are presented on race day in immaculate condition which is again symbolic of Wajid’s expectations around attention to detail and presentation.
For the reasons outlined above, I believe Wajid is a worthy recipient of Sydney’s Strapper of the Year. His loyalty and dedication not only to my business but the industry itself is second-to-none and something I would be incredibly thrilled to see recognised.