Finalists – Administration & Ancillary Award

17 May, 2021


They are the organisers, fixers and protectors, the ones who know where everything is, how everything works and how to perform miracles at short notice.

They occupy the offices and the many other “backstage” areas of the thoroughbred industry – and they are indispensable.

At Arrowfield Stud the office is the realm of Jess Hood, who along with Cassandra Simmonds of Magic Millions, is a finalist in the Administration and Ancillary Services category of the Stud and Stable Staff Awards.

Jess has been at Arrowfield for 21 years and knows more than most about the running of a farm she joined in 1999 and where she quickly rose to the position of yearling manager before switching to administration.

“I did the yearlings for 10 years and then a job opened up in the office and I wanted to make a change without leaving Arrowfield, so it was perfect,” she said.

“There have been many personal rewards, but to be a finalist in these awards is a different kind of recognition, it’s humbling to know that what we do is recognised more widely.”

In her office management role, Jess is responsible for such areas as human resources, client liaison and import and export. In the breeding season she supports the stud secretary and at the major sales she draws on her experience with the yearlings to assist wherever she can.

To Arrowfield manager Paul Messara, she is vital: “Diligence, attention to detail and a deep knowledge of the farm, its people, its operations and its clients are critical to Arrowfield’s business – and Jess possesses all of those attributes.”

“Jess was responsible for presenting the stud’s drafts at all the major sales including the early progeny of Redoute’s Choice and his sons. The knowledge and the skills she acquired during those years has equipped her in a unique way for the job she now performs.”

Cass Simmonds’ role at Magic Millions requires its own special skills, with diplomacy and resourcefulness high on the list.

If there are areas in which Cass gets unanimous praise it is her ability to always, and to the highest standard, meet the demands of buyers and sellers, and, in the age of the pandemic, liaising with government bureaucrats.

“Cass is someone whose dedication efficiency and calm, even in the most trying circumstances, are a great asset to both Magic Millions and the countless breeders, trainers, agents and syndicators who rely on her,” said her nominator Tom Reilly, CEO of Thoroughbred Breeders Australia.

“In the past 12 months the logistical challenge has been made immeasurably more difficult due to Coronavirus. Cass is no longer just dealing with flights, hotel bookings and transfers, but is liaising with government on travel permits, border passes and Covid bio-security plans.

“It is fair to say Cass was single-handedly responsible for ensuring some of the biggest buyers at the Magic Millions Gold Coast sale were able to make it to Queensland.”

In a string off endorsements accompanying her nomination, Cass is described glowingly, affectionately, and professionally as “the Zipper” – the one who brings everything together.

Said leading syndicator Denise Martin: “Cass is peerless in this industry at being able to get things done with a truly remarkable efficiency and unwavering courtesy that is rarely seen in any industry.”

Garry Cuddy of Spendthrift Farms echoed those sentiments: “In the past 12 months we have lived in a world of the unknown, but one thing the clients of Magic Millions always knew was that Cass was doing everything humanly possible to make their sales experience seamless.”

Trainer Anthony Freedman also offered profuse praise: “Cass always goes above and beyond, no issue is too big for her to solve, she’s always in control – she’s one of MM’s greatest assets.”

And, in summing up, Peter O’Brien of Segenhoe Stud: “Cass is, quite simply, the most efficient person I’ve ever met.”

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