LONG-TIME Warwick Racecourse employee Simon Butler received the ultimate honour for his dedicated service.
Course bosses ran the Simon Butler Celebrating 25 years Juvenile Hurdle at the recent Budbrooke Chase Day to mark his silver jubilee.
The 39-year-old Warwick resident has prepared and altered the fences at the Hampton Road venue since 1991.
Simon’s work involves ensuring each fence, hurdle and yard of rail is in place for the course’s meetings – which take place from September until May.
Simon has also had a passion for horses, and aged 14 simply asked Edward Gillespie – general manager of Warwick Racecourse at the time – for a job.
Simon told The Observer: “I loved horses so I asked Edward for a job and it went from there.
“I slowly worked my way up and I remember loving the chance to be working in the company of jockey’s like Richard Dunwoody and more recently Robert ‘Choc’ Thornton.
“Warwick Racecourse is a great venue and a stiff jumping test – the course is well known for its challenging layout and we’ve seen horses run here that have gone on to win at Cheltenham and Aintree’s Grand National meeting.”
Since changing to an all jumps course two years ago, Simon praised the work that the Jockey Club has done to get the course to the position its in now.
“I believe Warwick is the best midlands track other than Cheltenham.
“The money is all going into jump racing now and that’s one of the biggest changes.
“Having a passion for horse racing has definitely helped. I remember once asking Choc for his best chance at the festival and he told me Voy Por Ustedes – it won and I had a few more winners that day. I thanked him after.
“The sport has changed massively, we moved the bends around to ensure horses don’t churn up the ground too much. We would’ve never been able to do that before because rails were concrete – that’s probably the biggest change.”
Proud mum Pat was overjoyed at Simon having a race named after him.
He said: “The racecourse knew Simon had potential and it’s great that he’s been recognised for his outstanding work.
“Simon is highly thought of at Warwick Racecourse and has been nominated for awards – I don’t think he’d ever do another job, he loves it that much.”
And the Simon Butler Celebrating 25 years Juvenile Hurdle was won by Forgiven Glance ridden by Denis O’Regan.