In the second of a series of interviews The Racing Post are completing with the winners of the 2017 Godolphin Stud & Stable Staff Awards, Elisha Whittington, winner of the 2017 David Nicholson newcomer award, reflects on her success and her role in providing first class care to horses.
What makes for good stable staff?
Being prepared to work hard and to look after the horses to your best ability, and always trying to achieve your goals.
How important are these awards?
Very. They show how hard you work, and winning an award is an achievement that makes you want to continue working hard. It shows staff are valued. I had no idea about them or that I was put forward until I received a letter telling me I'd been nominated.
What did it mean to you to win?
It was overwhelming. I didn't expect to win but it meant a lot because it showed my passion for the job and it rewarded the support I'd received from my trainer and family. I came into racing early and moved away from home at 16, which was a big step. As a result of winning the award I've been to high schools and colleges to promote racing and the industry as a whole. People think you need to ride to be into the job but there's so much more to it than that.
What is the biggest challenge stable staff face?
I don't find it a challenge because I really enjoy what I do. You have the odd bad day when you have to get up on a cold morning but once you're up and out it's fine. You're in the routine, in the rhythm. There are long hours occasionally but I love the job. Not many people can go home and say that. We see the horses grow up, then lead them out at the racecourse and see them win.
If you could change one thing about your job what would it be?
The weather when it's cold! We should also try to promote the sport more. People in racing know all about it but those outside only know about the big meetings. It would be nice to get more people interested.
What is the best thing about your job?
Having a bond with the horses and riding them every day. I got my apprentice licence in January and had my first rides a couple of months ago. Now I've had a feel for race-riding I can hopefully get more rides and ride some winners. As part of my prize I also won an educational trip to Dubai in March so I've got that to look forward to as well.
The awards are generously sponsored by Godolphin, and run by the BHA in association with the Racing Post. Nominations, which close on November 21, can be submitted by clicking here.