The 14th annual Martin Wills Memorial Trust awards, for creative writing (fact or fiction) on, or with a background in, any aspect of horse racing, by a young person resident in the UK or the Republic of Ireland, attracted 102 entries (54 senior and 48 junior).
The under 26 winner is 24 year-old Thomas Reed from Northampton, a Warwick University History graduate who is a marketing assistant for an on-line hotel reservations service. He receives £1,250 for his article, "Who Claims in a Claimer", about Trevor who is always in the bookies sporting an audacious Hawaiian-style shirt. In addition, he will retain for a year a bronze trophy of two galloping horses by Gill Wiles.
The under 26 runner-up is 23 year-old James Milton from Diss, Norfolk, who has recently moved to London to seek employment in publishing. He has a First Class Degree in English Language and Literature from Leeds University. He receives £750 for his article, "A Day at the Races in Kolkata".
The under 19s competition has been won by 18 year-old Georgina Hibberd from Hilmarton, near Calne in Wiltshire, who is a pupil at Wootton Bassett School and this summer will take A2 Levels in English Language, English Literature, Geography and German, before going to Cardiff University in September to read English Language Studies. She receives £500 for her article, "Soldiers & Kings".
All three articles will be published in the Racing Post and The Irish Field.
The judges were: Brough Scott, Editorial Director of the Racing Post, sports feature writer of The Sunday Telegraph and for 30 years chief presenter of Channel 4 Racing (Chairman); Donn McClean, who is chief feature writer of The Irish Field, racing columnist of the Irish edition of the Sunday Times and co-author with Jessica Harrington of “Moscow Flyer” (and was runner-up in the Trust’s inaugural competition in 1993); Julian Muscat, racing writer of The Times; Peter Oborne, who is Political Editor of The Spectator and winner of the 2004 William Hill Sports Book of the Year award for his biography of Basil D’Oliveira; and Catherine Wills, art historian sister of Martin Wills.
Brough Scott stated “The range and vitality of the entries is something that lifted all us judges. There were some very ambitious ideas. As all of us who ever try to put paragraphs together know all too well, not all of the ideas worked perfectly. But the finalists impressed the judges hugely and Thomas Reed's winning entry was an enviable mixture of wry observation and betting shop wisdom with an unexpectedly poignant twist in the tail.”
The Awards are being presented today at the Rowley Mile Course, Newmarket, where the award winners will be given an expenses paid day’s racing, including a reception in the Sponsors’ Lounge, kindly lent by the Racecourse, plus a tour of Henry Cecil’s and James Fanshawe’s yards.
The Martin Wills Memorial Trust Awards commemorate Martin Wills, an amateur jockey, point-to-point rider, racing enthusiast and journalist who died in April 1992, aged 39.
Charles Ponsonby (Chairman of the Trustees) 020-7367 8851(w)/07789-202 312
Andrew Kavanagh (Trustee) tel - 00 353-5997 73105
Thomas Reed (winner, under 26s award) tel - 07730 - 567 204
James Milton (runner-up, under 26s award) tel - 07888 - 709 102
Georgina Hibberd (winner, under 19s award) tel - 07706 - 492 777
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