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The Ripon Racecourse groundstaff team are celebrating after being named in the final three for the 2017 IOG John Deere Professional Horse Racing Grounds Team of the Year at the prestigious IOG Awards.

 The title was very much at their fingertips back in 2014 as they narrowly missed out to the team at York Racecourse. The shortlist which consists of three finalists from the 61 Racecourses in the UK, is the highlight of the Horse Racing calendar for the grounds teams who are often the unsung heroes of the Racecourses.

The IOG industry-wide Annual Awards, which recognise the important contribution made by groundscare staff in raising industry standards and encouraging greater professionalism within the industry.

The Ripon groundstaff team, which is headed up by Head Groundsman Carl Tonks, look after the privately owned site at Ripon which

covers 280 acres. The team, which includes four full time members of staff, work all year round to facilitate 17 days of horse racing in addition to a range of non-racing and community based events which include National Triathlons, Police/Army training and Championship Dog Shows.

 They will be up against the Racecourse groundstaff teams form Nottingham and Sandown Park.

Now in its ninth year, the awards – which enjoy headline sponsorship by Rigby Taylor and Top Green – acknowledge the passion, dedication and challenges faced by grounds staff, volunteers and professionals across all levels of sport.

“Once again we have enjoyed a record-breaking entry to the awards,” says IOG chief executive, Geoff Webb. “Nominations this year rose by 93 per cent, which illustrates the esteem in which our industry – from all corners of the UK – holds the awards.

“The judges, all of whom are groundsmen, were particularly impressed with the quality of the submissions. In fact, the standard of nominations improves year-on-year.

“Everyone who has been nominated should be recognised, regardless of whether they make the shortlist or, indeed, go on to be named as winners. It just shows the range and dedication of those working at both professional and volunteer level, day in and day out in all weathers to ensure our sports men and women, young and old, have available an increasingly higher standard of playing surfaces.”

Geoff adds: “The awards would not be possible without the generosity of our sponsors, and these companies and organisations have enabled the event to become a landmark event every year.

“The industry’s support is invaluable and it has created the conditions for a sell-out event and one that enjoys national and regional TV, radio, social media and press coverage.”

James Hutchinson, Ripon Racecourse Managing Director and Clerk of the Course said:

“This is a tremendous achievement for the team to be recognised in such a way for the hard work and dedication put in through the long season”

Carl Tonks, Ripon Racecourse Head Groundsman at Ripon Racecourse said:

“Our team is truly honoured to be shortlisted this year and its worthy praise to the dedication of all the staff involved here at Ripon. The support of the industry by the IOG is insurmountable in its promotion of the efforts of world class groundstaff”

Independent judging at each venue will now take place. The winners will be announced Oscar-style at the IOG Industry Awards dinner by host Mark Saggers from talkSPORT radio at the National Conference Centre, Birmingham, on Wednesday 1 November – the evening of the opening day of the SALTEX exhibition at the nearby NEC.

Full details of all the categories and 2017 finalists can be found here:

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