Three aspiring racing journalists have fought off record competition to win this year’s Martin Wills Memorial Trust horseracing writing awards.
Winners Alistair Millar, Jack Cantillon and Tom McKenna were presented with their awards by Racing Post founder Brough Scott at Newmarket today (Wednesday 15 April).
The awards are for creative writing about any aspect of horseracing and remember Martin Wills, an amateur jockey, point-to-point rider, racing enthusiast and journalist who died in April 1992, aged 39.
This year a record total of 169 entries were received for the three categories — under-26, under-19 and under-15.
The articles were judged by Brough Scott, H&H racing correspondent Marcus Armytage, Tim Cox, former worldwide media director of the BBDO advertising agency, Michael Howard, former home secretary, racing author and journalist Sean Magee, Bruce Millington, editor of the Racing Post and Catherine Wills, sister of Martin Wills and a member of the Jockey Club.
“The judging process this year was one of the most enjoyable we have had because of the real energy and talent that was coming off the page. That is exactly what these awards had hoped to encourage,” said Brough Scott.
Twenty-four-year-old Alistair Millar from Glasgow won the under-26 award for his article “Don’t look a gift horse” about a smug disillusioned teenager who decides to take his employer for a ride.
Alistair is studying for a postgraduate diploma in journalism at Strathclyde University and wins £1,250.
In the under-19 category Jack Cantillon, 17, from Co. Kildare wins £500 for his article “Tips Today, Exams Tomorrow”, about a student’s quest to place a bet during his mock exams.
And the under-15 winner is Tom McKenna from Liverpool whose article “The March Meeting” is about the essence, thrill and beauty of horseracing.
Runners ups were
Under-26 — Cathal Dennehy from Limerick, for “ Novice chaser”.
Under-19 — 17-year-old Morgan Curtis from London for “Clearing skies”.
Under-15 — 14-year-old Theodora Murray-Jones from London for “St Petersburg Passion”.
Lucy Eddis, from Essex, aged 10, was highly commended for her article “If Only It Were a Typical Day” about a family’s day’s racing at Kempton.
She and her pony, Bradmore Raindance, won the mini qorking hunter pony championship at the British Show Pony Society Heritage Championships in October.
Read the winning entries at www.willswritingawards.co.uk