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York Racecourse Groundsman Wins National Award

York Racecourse

1:36pm 6th December 2013

York Racecourse is delighted that their Head Groundsman, Adrian Kay, has won the coveted overall national title of ‘The Alex R Millar Award’ for being Professional Groundsman of the Year, an award organised by the Institute of Groundsman (IOG) and sponsored by John Deere and DLF Johnsons.  As well as scooping the top IOG award for horseracing, Adrian went through to win the overall top award, seeing off competition from the worlds of professional football, rugby, cricket and tennis as well as horseracing; after each finalist had won their respective sport specific categories.

A judging panel of turf professionals and head groundsmen from some of Britain’s best known sports stadia assessed the finalists over a number of criteria as well as by site visits.  Assessment areas included enthusiasm, innovation and leadership as well as the more technical turf husbandry and agronomic skills.  In a glitzy awards ceremony presented by BBC Radio 5 Live’s Mark Clemmit at the Ricoh Stadium in Coventry on Thursday 5 December, Adrian was on hand to receive both the awards alongside his assistant, Kevin Upton.

The racing surface at York Racecourse has been transformed under Adrian’s guidance since he joined Yorkshire’s biggest sporting venue from Aintree in 2006.  During his time in post, projects include the completion of a comprehensive track development project undertaken in 2008 and 2009, which was one of the biggest drainage and irrigation schemes ever seen on a British racecourse.  Prize money, field sizes and the number of runners have all increased during Adrian’s tenure including some standout performances of horses such as Sea The Stars and Frankel – the highest rated thoroughbreds in the world in 2009 and 2012 respectively.  In the past year alone, Adrian and the other members of the York groundstaff have coped with conditions from the wettest summer on record in 2012 to the heat wave conditions in July 2013.

Having a key role in the ongoing programme of improvements at York, means Adrian is playing an integral role in the creation of the new pre parade ring and saddling boxes, both scheduled to open for the start of the 2014 season on Wednesday 14 May.

This latest award follows the success of the entire team last year when they collected the Racecourse Groundstaff Award for the second time in just four seasons.

William Derby, Clerk of the Course and Chief Executive at York, said, “I am truly delighted for Adrian and indeed the whole team at York who work with such endeavour, talent and determination to innovate, learn and improve.  Adrian leads by example, mentors, develops and encourages his team and is a true ambassador both of York and our sport.  To be awarded this top honour by his peers and specialist experts across professional sport is a tremendous endorsement of what we know – he is a great asset to York and to Racing.  I also know Adrian will be able to celebrate this award in some style!”

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