Sydney Strapper of the Year

2024 Finalists

The finalists for the 2023-24 Sydney Strapper of the Year award have been announced. Now in its 15th 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 29 August.

Congratulations to all the finalists!

Alicia Henderson (James Cummings)

Horses strapped in Sydney this season: In Secret, Traffic Warden, Hanau, Dipsy Doodle.

Alicia Henderson consistently goes above and beyond in caring for the racehorses under her management, demonstrating a passion that is crucial in the meticulous care of these finely tuned animals.

On race days, Alicia ensures our team’s high standards of presentation are met, presenting her horses in immaculate condition. The preparation for our horses’ target races begins long before race day, where Alicia’s care and attention to each horse are paramount to their opportunities to fulfil their potential. She dedicates extra time to grooming and caring for her horses, coordinating closely with the team to ensure they receive the best care possible.

Alicia’s dedication has been evident in notable campaigns, such as In Secret’s agonisingly close 4th place finish during her Everest campaign and Traffic Warden’s impressive 4th place in his Golden Slipper campaign, and narrowly missing victory in the Group 1 ATC Sires.

Whilst Alicia would be the first to acknowledge that our results are a team effort, her individual contributions highlight the significant impact that dedicated strappers like her can have when prioritising the welfare of their horses

Anandha Durieux (John Sargent)

Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Ningaloo Star, Miss Faberge, Gin Martini, Outlandos, Perfect Thought.

Anandha Durieux is an incredibly reliable, hardworking, trustworthy, dedicated and integral member of our staff. Anandha has been in the industry for 8 years but since joining our team 2 years ago Anandha has continued to impress and develop her skills and knowledge of not only horses but also the racing industry.

Anandha’s role at the stable is vast with many different important everyday jobs that help the stable operate in a smooth and professional manner.

Some of Anandha’s roles include overseeing all stable movements, overseeing trackwork gear as well as riding trackwork. She also cares for horses and helps with general stable work such as boxes, saddling, washing and horse treatments.

Anandha also takes huge pride in her Raceday responsibilities which include strapping both metropolitan and provincial meetings but also travelling interstate with horses. She can often be seen at Raceday’s saddling and talking to owners highlighting her professionalism.

Anandha’s attention to details sets her apart and the care she shows and provides for all horses at our stable are second to none. She is always willing to go above and beyond for her job without needed to be asked and will regularly be the last staff to leave each morning.

It is for all these reasons that Anandha is a perfect candidate for the Strapper of the Year award. This award would give Anandha the recognition that she deserves for all her years of service and dedication.

Ashish Kumar (Bjorn Baker)

Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Ozzmosis, Steffi Magnetica, Passagiatia, Ride The River.

When Ashish joined my stable in 2017, he was a young man from India with little experience working with horses. Over the past seven years, Ashish has shown exceptional growth thanks to his hard work and strong horsemanship skills.

Describing him as a natural with both the staff and the horses doesn’t do him justice – he is also completely reliable, and I have unwavering trust in him. His qualities have made him an indispensable part of my stable, and I know I couldn’t run things the same way without him.

It was a great moment for our entire team to see Ozzmosis win the Coolmore Stud Stakes, but nobody was prouder than Ashish, who strapped him for every start and picked him out before his first trial.

Ashish doesn’t only handle the ‘Glory Horses’; he often ends up with some of the more highly strung ones due to his lovely, calm, and gentle demeanour; both the horses and the staff respond positively.

Ashish is a fantastic example to everyone in my stable of how there are no barriers to where people can end up. Ashish’s story would inspire many people, not just inside my stable. He is a great example of how it doesn’t matter where you start or who you know in this industry; it’s the work you put in.

Bhojraj Singh (Chris Waller)

Horses attended in Sydney this season: Who Shot Thebarman, Estadio Mestalla, Etna Rosso.

Bhojraj Singh (Raj) has worked for us for seven years and has been an extremely reliable and loyal staffmember and nothing asked of him is ever too big or small.

Raj is based at Rosehill with a young family but more than happy to travel to our Warwick Farm stable at short notice to lend a hand to the team there.

Raj is a very experienced and kind rider. He used to ride tricky horses such as Verry Elleegant when her main track rider was away, or Who Shot TheBarman. Raj is often seen at the races or around the stables looking after / riding and strapping the highly strung fillies due to his calming and positive demeanour keeping the fillies nice and relaxed.

Raj is a hard worker. He is always first to work and last to leave and always there to lend a hand. He deserves every accolade he gets.

Christine Brincat (Joe Pride)

Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Lekvarte, Dragonstone, City Of Lights, Anagain, Wild Botanica, Headley Grange.

Christine is perfect for the Sydney Strapper of the Year award. She has a fantastic character, always positive and kind, which makes her great to be around. Her horse handling skills are top-notch – she really understands what each horse needs and takes great care of them.

Christine always looks professional, and her work ethic is incredible. She is reliable hardworking, and always goes the extra mile. She is a key part of our stable, helping whenever needed and mentoring new staff.

In short, Christine’s passion and dedication make her an outstanding strapper and truly deserving finalist for this award.

Franki Yates (Danny Williams)

Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Shelby Sixty Six, Wizard Of Oz, Bandi’s Boy, Stormy Witness, Atmospheric Rock, Marsabit.

Franki Yates is a very happy person with great character and humour, who is always willing to teach others.

Franki has taken on – over and above her role – extra work while Danny has been injured.

She will start at 3am (two hours before the other staff arrive) to get extra work done six to seven mornings per week. And she will sometimes stay around helping until midday. She would then come back in the afternoon to help feed and rug the horses.

And she does all this whilst studying for her Bachelor of Engineering degree and training for various competitions – including “Pink Triathlon” for breast cancer, HYROX Competition and now City to Surf.

She is always polite, willing to give a hand, and enjoys what she does – working with horses for the passion of racing!

James Dunn (Sam Kavanagh)

Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Aramayo, Metallic Ruler, Wrathful, Magnatear.

James is very reliable with a great work ethic and can be entrusted to take the horses to the races without assistance when required.

When Sam was unwell for extended periods during the season, James took on extra responsibilities.

This involved driving the horse float, saddling up the horses and strapping them at both barrier trials and race meetings – all on his own. In addition to the Sydney meetings, he travelled all over the state including Tamworth, Port Macquarie and Kembla Grange.

James is very good at communication with owners and with other team members and always has himself and his horses well presented.

Kirsty Formosa (Jeremy Sylvester)

Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Largo’s Daughter, Master of Rewards, Classy Jaybee, Olimba, Spoke to Rajiv.

With over 30 years of dedicated service in the racing industry while raising a family on her own, Kirsty Formosa embodies the qualities and expertise that make her a standout candidate for this esteemed recognition as Strapper of the Year.

Kirsty’s extensive experience in the racing industry spans across various roles, from being a jockey and a trainer, and she continues to contribute significantly by riding trackwork to this day and of course her love of strapping horses at the races. Her unwavering commitment and passion for the thoroughbred industry and racing are evident in her ability to care for race day horses with the utmost dedication and professionalism.

One of Kirsty’s remarkable attributes is her willingness to travel long distances on her own, including overnight stays and week-long interstate commitments, showcasing her reliability and strong work ethic. Her attention to detail is second to none, ensuring that every horse under her watchful eye receives the highest standard of attention and care.

Moreover, Kirsty’s exceptional interpersonal skills and profound understanding of every aspect of racing make her a valuable asset to any team. Her wisdom and compassion resonate with clients, owners, racing officials and colleagues alike, fostering strong relationships built on trust and professionalism.

In conclusion, Kirsty Formosa’s substantial knowledge, experience, and unwavering dedication to the racing industry make her a standout candidate for the title of Strapper of the Year. She is more than deserving of this honour and will continue to excel in her contributions to the industry.

Taneesha King (Theresa Bateup)

Horses strapped in Sydney this season: The Guru, Vain Invader, Kickamushu, Hope Uno, Tartana, Divine Breath.

Taneesha King is an excellent candidate for this award. She is a highly dedicated employee who is representative of the staff you want working in your stable. She is an asset to our stable and to the racing industry.

Taneesha has a passion for horses which shines through in her work. She has excellent attention to detail and is always willing to learn and ask questions. During her 5 years with the stable, Taneesha has developed high level skills of horse management, knowledge and horsemanship. She is highly reliable and displays flexibility, resilience and takes a great deal of pride in everything that she does. She is diligent and trustworthy and can make decisions in high pressure situations. Taneesha has an excellent work ethic and will often pick up shifts at late notice, as well as staying back to assist with the vet or dentist.

Taneesha always presents her horses immaculately at the races and takes pride in ensuring they look their best. Taneesha often travels long distances to the races (having attended most racetracks from Tamworth to Wagga, Orange, Sapphire Coast and most tracks in between)!

Taneesha builds a great rapport with the horses in the stables and loves to spoil our horses. Taneesha’s favourite horse was The Guru, but he was not the easiest of horses to deal with at the races. However, Taneesha always handled him beautifully. Taneesha has a great manner with horses and is very calm in her approach which sees horses settle and relax nicely for her. Taneesha has also developed great relationships with our owners and will often send them photos and videos of their horses at the races.

Taneesha also passes on her knowledge by educating new staff in the stables, highlighting her leadership skills and ability to build cohesive working relationships and building a positive culture in the work environment. Taneesha has her own horses that she cares for and rides outside of work hours and has displayed the attributes, knowledge and ability to continue to build a successful career in the racing industry.

Vinay Raturi (Waterhouse & Bott)

Horses strapped in Sydney this season: Raf Attack, Butch Cassidy, Steel Strike, Kaizad, Shangri La express, Hoo Ya Mal, Keenan.

Vinay Raturi is a credit to our stables and always represents Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott Racing to the highest standard. He is capable with any horse and displays the utmost attention to equine welfare with his impressive horse skills.

This is an exceptional achievement, as he had never had experience with horses before starting work here four years ago.

Vinay loves strapping horses, and always looks stylish and well presented as he goes about it. He is always doing that bit extra and will gladly help in any way he can.

He has an impressive strike rate with the horses he straps, with results such as:
* Shangri La Express – 1st in the Golden Gift
* Raf Attack – 1st in the Gloaming Stakes
* Butch Cassidy running in the Championships
* Hoo Ya Mal – 2nd in the Rosehill Stakes

Sydney Strapper of the Year HONOUR ROLL

Year Winner Stable
2023 Phylisha DOYLE Chris Waller
2022 Ian SMITH Annabel Neasham
2021 Clare HEUSTON Chris Waller
2020 Graeme WILSON Kris Lees
2019 Alexandra MAHER John O’Shea
2018 Lindy WHAREKURA Peter & Paul Snowden
2017 Riharna THOMSON Dryden / Collings
2016 Iftikhar ALI Chris Waller
2015 Vicki SZECSODI Bjorn Baker
2014 George TUCKER Chris Waller
2013 Glenn BARNES Chris Waller
2012 Skye SMALLEY Guy Walter
2011 Michael DOOLAN Peter Snowden
2010 Melissa WILLIAMS John O’Shea
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