James O’Neill with his award at the Irish Stud Stable Staff Awards
PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
JAMES O’NEILL, long-serving and well-known assistant trainer to John Oxx, was the big winner at Tuesday night’s Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff awards ceremony, held in the Dunraven Arms Hotel, Adare, County Limerick.
O’Neill, who is widely known as ‘Slim’ and has been associated with the Oxx stable throughout his career, won both the main honour, the Irish racing excellence award, and the dedication to racing award.
For his excellence award, for which he was chosen by the judging panel from among five finalists, all of whom were individual category winners, O’Neill received €5,000, with a further €5,000 to be distributed among the staff in the Oxx yard.
The winners in the leadership, rider/groom, head lad/girl, stud employee and administration categories each received €5,000 and a trophy, plus there was a further €4,000 for the employees from the yard or stud that employs them.
The other winners received a trophy and €2,500, while Lorna Bugle, winner of the newcomer award, also won a trip to Dubai.
The awards, with a total prize fund of €70,000, were managed by Horse Racing Ireland and the Irish Stable Staff Association in association with media partner the Racing Post.
Irish Racing Excellent and Dedication to Racing: James O’Neill, assistant to John Oxx
Leadership: Damien McGillick, assistant to Noel Meade
Head lad/girl or travelling head lad/girl: Dick Dowling (Willie Mullins)
Rider/groom: Sonny Carey (Willie Mullins)
Stud employee: Nuala Healy, manager of Ballincurrig House Stud
Administration: Martina Murphy-Dunne, racing secretary to Dermot Weld
Newcomer: Lorna Buggle, head girl with Richard Brabazon Ancillary services: Kathleen Hanratty, grooms’ canteen, Curragh racecourse
Racecourse: Dundalk stadium
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