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Maughan takes lead role with passion centre stage; STUD AND STABLE STAFF AWARDS.

Byline: Turia Tellwright sees dedication and commitment receive handsome recognition

ACCORDING to David Elsworth, the job of a trainer is like that of a ship's captain - and every skipper needs a good crew to man his vessel.

At yesterday's Stud and Stable Staff Awards, supported by Godolphin, Elsworth's long-standing travelling head lad Peter Maughan was crowned employee of the year by the BHA. At 72, Maughan has more than half a century's experience in the sport.

"At the end of the day, we're only as good as the people that work for us," Elsworth said.

"The results sections of the paper only tells half the story. Really, they should be like the credits in a film and recognise the team effort."

During his 26 years with Elsworth, Maughan has been associated with such legends as Desert Orchid, In The Groove, Persian Punch and Rhyme 'N' Reason. However, Elsworth calls on the example of 1989 Cheveley Park winner Dead Certain as evidence of the role Maughan has played during the trainer's career.

"She was the kind that you really needed to keep a lid on and Peter and my then head lad Rodney Boult did a great job, otherwise she'd have boiled over."

A grounding in the King's Troop provided Maughan with what his boss describes as the tidiest tack room imaginable. But once National Service was over, there was only one career he had in mind.

"I started with Arthur Budgett. He was a lovely man and a very nice trainer. I was there for around 23 years, then spent four or five years with James Bethell and have been with David ever since. People get one horse in a lifetime - I've had so many."

Maughan's emotion demonstrated what yesterday's awards mean to those at the sport's coal face, and he overcame stiff competition from Nicky Henderson's assistant Corky Browne, and Michael Jarvis's secretary Jim Hiner to take first prize.

The trio have 145 years in the industry between them, and Racing Post editorial director and judging panel chairman Brough Scott described them as not just "current stars" but "living racing legends".

Maughan said: "Today has been splendid, but I feel a fraud for receiving a prize for something I love. I'll keep going for as long as I can."

Aware most people his age took their pensions seven years ago, and despite breaking his pelvis in a riding accident last year, Maughan has yet to consider retirement. "I tried golf but didn't like it. If I gave up, what else would I do?"

WITH half of the pounds 25,000 first prize, presented by guest of honour Mick Fitzgerald, destined for the rest of the yard, Elsworth is confident that the Godolphinbacked awards encourage prosperity within the industry.

"It's an incentive for the others and maybe, when I come out in the morning and get grumpy over what they only see as a triviality, they'll realise the difference," he explained. "I know that Peter would never make a mistake, and trusting people like him makes my job a lot easier."

Maughan's passion underlines that felt by all the 15 finalists.

Andy Gibson, hero of the special merit category and yardman for Stuart Williams, explained that his love of racing has helped him battle secondary stage multiple sclerosis. Since being diagnosed with the illness ten years ago, he has never missed a day's work.

Watching the behind-thescenes footage on the overhead screen, no-one could fail to be moved by the dedication on display yesterday even if, in the words of Scott, there were "disgracefully few" nominations in the stud category, with just eight.

In his opening speech, BHA chairman Paul Roy summed up the day's achievements. "There is a greatness running through the absolute core of our sport," he said.

"Tony McCoy's 3,000th winner demonstrated a lifetime of commitment and talent. Some might say that Hayley Turner has flown in the face of convention with her maiden century, and Ryan Moore proved himself a worldclass athlete, dominating the last Flat season.

"However, greatness takes many different forms and we can ask ourselves, would any one of these three have reached such heights without the talent and hard work of those working behind the scenes?"
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Feb 18, 2009
Words:705
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