The 20th annual Wills Writing Awards, for creative writing (fact or fiction) around a horseracing theme by a young person resident in the UK or the Republic of Ireland, have attracted 116 entries, similar to last year. Of these, 39 were in the Under 26 category, 33 were in the Under 19 category, and 44 were in the Under 15 category.
Of the six prize-winners, five were girls, representing a third successive year of female dominance. Other notable features were the identity of an under 26 joint winner- four times Irish Champion Amateur NH Jockey, Patrick Mullins- and the age of the under 15 winner- 10.
The first under 26 joint winner is 25 year old Hannah Barraclough from Penistone, near Barnsley in South Yorkshire. From Penistone Grammar School, she went to Sheffield University, where she obtained a BA in English Literature, and then Glasgow University, where she is about to complete an MA in Creative Writing. She receives £1,000 for her article, The 2.20 at Wetherby, about a grandfather’s and granddaughter’s shared passion for racing.
The second under 26 joint winner is 22 year old Patrick Mullins from Closutton, near Bagenalstown in Co. Carlow. He was at school at Clongowes Wood College in Co. Kildare, where he obtained an A1 in English in his Leaving Certificate, and then was awarded a Bachelor of Business degree from Maynooth University, also in Co. Kildare. Equally relevant, he possesses an outstanding racing pedigree, being the grandson of the late Paddy Mullins (10 times champion Irish NH trainer), the son of Willie Mullins (six times champion Irish NH trainer and amateur jockey) and himself a highly successful amateur jockey. He receives £1,000 for his article, Living the Dream?, about his first Grand National ride, in 2011, which ended tragically at the 6th fence, Becher’s. The article was published in the Racing Post of 10 April, The Daily Telegraph of 13 April and The Irish Field of 14 April, Grand National day.
The Under 19 winner is 18 year old Monica McCluskey from Broadwas, near Worcester. Having obtained two As and a B at A Level at The Chase Six Form College, Malvern, in the autumn she will going up to university in her native Glasgow to read English and Politics. She receives £500 for her article, Sanlucar de Barrameda, about an historic festival in Andalucia, Spain, centred around horse races on the sand.
The Under 19 runner-up is 18 year old Lottie Pyper from Storrington, in West Sussex. She is an Academic Scholar at Marlborough College, Wiltshire, where she obtained 12 A* grades in her GCSEs and will this summer be taking A Levels in English, History, Maths and Further Maths. This autumn, she will be going up to New College, Oxford to read English. In 2011, she won the Daily Telegraph/Penguin Short Story Competition. She receives £250 for My Mother Wore a Yellow Dress, a story, about a gambler who does not want to win, that explores the themes of remorse, responsibility and growing-up.
The Under 15 winner is 10 year old Susie Eddis from Little Horkesley, near Colchester in Essex. She attends Littlegarth Preparatory School, Great Horkesley, as did her elder sister, Lucy, who was highly commended aged 10 in 2009 and runner-up in 2010 aged 11. In 2011, Susie competed at Hickstead and the Horse of the Year Show on her working hunter pony, Peter Pan. She receives £250 for her article, Zenyatta, about the American mare which won 19 consecutive races in a 20 race career, grossing more prize money than any other American horse of her sex.
The Under 15 runner-up is 13 year old Bella Colvin from North Waltham, near Winchester in Hampshire, who attends St Swithun’s School, Winchester. She receives £125 for her article, If Only.., a flight of fancy about a horserace.
A selection of the other winning articles will be published, in the next few weeks, in the Racing Post and The Irish Field. The Under 26 winners will also have the opportunity of work experience at the Racing Post.
The judges were: Brough Scott (Chairman), three times Sports Feature Writer of the Year, Racing Writer of the Year in both 1977 and 2010, and a leading figure in three spheres of racing journalism- the national press, the trade press and broadcasting; Marcus Armytage, racing writer at The Daily Telegraph and Grand National winning jockey; Simon Barnes, the award-winning chief sportswriter of The Times and author of 20 books; Steve Dennis, a feature writer and weekly columnist for the Racing Post; Sean Magee, a versatile racing author and journalist who has collaborated with several leading racing personalities; Lissa Oliver, a racing journalist for The Irish Field, International Thoroughbred and three Australian magazines; Stephen Wallis, recently appointed Group Director of International and Racing Relations for the Jockey Club and formerly Managing Director of Newmarket and Epsom Downs Racecourses; and Catherine Wills, sister of Martin Wills, who is a DPhil Art Historian and a racehorse owner/breeder.
Brough Scott stated “This was the best short list ever set before the judges and it says everything for their quality that, although Patrick Mullins’ entry was one of the finest and most moving pieces ever written about the Grand National, it could only dead heat with Hannah Barraclough’s little masterpiece”.
The prize-winning entries can be read on the website (www.willswritingawards.co.uk) under "The Winners" tab.
The Awards are being presented by Brough Scott at 12 noon today in the Limekilns Room in the Millennium Grandstand on the Rowley Mile Course, Newmarket, the room again being kindly made available by the Racecourse. The prize-winners will additionally receive an expenses paid day’s racing plus, for the winners, a tour of Henry Cecil’s and James Fanshawe’s yards.
The shortlist totalled 22 (10 under 26, six under 19 and six under 15), as follows:
Hannah Barraclough, 25, Peniston, nr Barnsley, South Yorkshire
Elizabeth Collingwood, 23, Huntington, nr Kington, Herefordshire
Joshua Farrington, 24, Chelmsford, Essex
Peter Flynn, 22, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire
Chris Humpleby, 20, Carlisle, Cumbria
James Moloney-Quinn, 21, Maddenstown South, Co. Kildare
Patrick Mullins, 22, Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow
Paula-Jane Murphy, 22, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford
Louise Powell, 20, Middlesbrough
Tim Williams, 20, Bridgwater, Somerset
Michael Andrews, 16, Church Stretton, Shropshire
Monica McCluskey, 18, Broadwas, nr Worcester, Worcestershire
Majella McParland, 18, Camlough, nr Newry, Co. Down
Bryony Puckett, 16, Taunton, Somerset
Lottie Pyper, 18, Storrington, West Sussex
Francis Walshe, 16, Waterford, Co. Waterford
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