STABLE staff with decades of service to their names are on course to compete against each other in a race to take the coveted Leadership Award in the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards.

Three locally-based racing stable staff are in the running for some major cash prizes.

The awards recognise the hard work and care given to horses by the staff who work in the horse racing industry.

The evening is compered by Clare Balding, pictured, at a glittering dinner at Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel in London on Tuesday, 25 February and the awards this year are presented by the record breaking 18-time champion jockey Tony McCoy.

Local rivalry will come to the fore when it comes to the announcement of the winner of the award.

Adam Kite, who works at Kimpton Down in Andover; Tony Gorman, who is based at Collingbourne Kingston, and Rory O’Dowd from Marlborough, are the three shortlisted finalists for the award following a highly competitive judging process.

The winner will receive a prize of £5,000 with an additional £5,000 also being shared among the winning yard’s staff and colleagues.

Adam Kite is head man and assistant trainer at Ralph Beckett’s Kimpton Down stables in A n d o v e r , where he is responsible for the care of over 100 horses.

The Godolphin Stud & Stable Staff judging panel acknowledged his hard work.

They said: “His trainer, Ralph Beckett, has no concerns when absent from the yard, knowing that it couldn’t be in any more reliable or knowledgeable hands.

“Adam has many years of experience looking after some of the best horses in the business as a head man for the likes of Jenny Pitman and John Gosden.

“He knows each and every one of the horses’ legs, eating habits and general well-being, and never misses anything.”

Tony Gorman is head lad at Richard Hannon’s stables in nearby C o l l i n g - b o u r n e Kingston.

The comm i t m e n t he has shown over his career has been recognised by the judges, who said: “Tony has worked for Richard Hannon Racing for 24 years.

“Since starting, the number of horses in his care has increased from 15 to around 200 and Tony has been an integral part of the operation.

He helps with the day-to-day running of the operation, including travelling horses domestically and internationally.

“Tony has influenced the careers of many apprentice jockeys through the yard, including Ryan Moore. He watches on with pride as these jockeys have gone on to successful careers. He is a truly wonderful horseman and tutor.”

Just down the road at Manton near Marlborough, Rory O’Dowd is assistant trainer at Brian Meehan’s stables and has 25 years’ experience of working with racehorses and this dedication has been highlighted by the judges.

Also up for an award is Maxine Ledger, head girl at Richard Hannon’s stables, who is a finalist in the Dedication to Racing Award.

The judges have recognised her long-standing commitment to racehorses. They said: “Maxine has worked at Richard Hannon Racing for 30 years and as head girl for the last 26 years, she was one of the first women to be appointed a head girl for a racing yard in England.

“She is a real team player and an extremely dedicated and hard-working member of the staff. She has been associated with and ridden many top horses.”

The winners of each category will go forward to the Employee of the Year Award. The winner of this award will receive £15,000, with the same amount awarded to their yard.