MANTON House Estate assistant trainer Rory O’Dowd is one of two Wiltshire men named as a finalist for the 13th annual Godolphin Stud & Stable Staff Awards.

O’Dowd, an assistant trainer for Brian Meehan at Manton, has been nominated for the Leadership accolade in the awards, which reward exceptional individuals who care for racehorses in Great Britain.

O’Dowd has worked in racing for nearly 30 years and has been assistant trainer for nine, having an in-depth knowledge of each of the 80 horses in training at Manton House Estate.

He has been at the forefront of some of the yard’s successes, including Rodrigo de Triano, who he looked after and rode for two years.

Meehan said: “He (O’Dowd) is a truly dedicated ‘behind the scenes’ stalwart with a love of horses.

“He lets nothing come between him and the needs of the horse.

“He is a decision-maker to whom everyone turns to for advice and guidance, and his professionalism with owners, horses and staff is second to none.

“Few people can achieve effective management in an upwards as well as a downwards direction with the great humour, self-possession and sheer professionalism that Rory shows.’’ Jamie Bunsell of Paul Henderson Racing in Whitsbury, near the Hampshire border, has also been nominated for the Rider/Groom Award.

As finalists, both O’Dowd and Bunsell are guaranteed a share of the £120,000 prize money, with every penny won being matched and shared amongst their yards by sponsors Godolphin.

The duo are down to the final three in their categories, with the final judging takes place on Monday, February 20, when they will also be invited to a special reception in the Houses of Parliament.

The winners will be announced at an evening ceremony hosted by ITV Racing’s Ed Chamberlin in London on the same day.