The expertise and dedication of the grounds team at Ripon Racecourse has been recognised by this year’s Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) Industry Awards with the team winning the John Deere Professional Horse Racing Grounds Team of the Year Award.

The four-strong grounds team at Ripon Racecourse work consistently to produce a racing surface that is fast, good/good to firm for every race, whether by irrigation or drainage management. The site hosts 17 days of racing each season – with a turnaround of nine-15 days between each fixture and an average of 65 runners for each meeting (over 1,000 runners every year).

Head Groundsman Carl Tonks said “I’m very grateful and proud of our team’s hard work and dedication throughout the year. To be recognised with the elite of the Groundscare industry is truly an honour and a privilege.”

As part of this expert care, independent agronomy reports in recent years has shown that the turf management process has improved.

In addition to the track, the team also maintains 210 acres of open space, car parks, woodland, lakes and buildings, which accommodate varied use, including:

Over 50 outside events such as

  • caravan rallies, car shows, beer festivals, car boot sales and dog shows;
  • Weddings, conferences and trade shows;
  • On the lake – fishing, diving, canoeing, jet skiing, triathlon training; and
  • Pigeon race liberations.

Organised by the IOG – the leading membership organisation for everyone involved in the management of sports pitches, landscape and amenity facilities – the annual awards embrace categories of entry covering sport, young people and the environment.

The awards highlight the high standards of volunteer and professional groundsmanship, from grassroots to professional stadia level. They are judged by an independent panel on criteria that include effective use of resources, budgetary control, presentation and housekeeping standards, as well as environmental considerations.

Commenting on the high standard of award winners, IOG chief executive Geoff Webb, says: “With a record number of entries, this year’s awards continue to demonstrate the skills and passion of groundsmanship throughout the UK, at both voluntary and professional level. 

“Winning an award is testament to the dedication of the grounds teams and individuals whose ability to produce and maintain ever-improving playing surfaces – which enables more games to take place – goes largely unnoticed.”

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