WINNERS OF 24th MARTIN WILLS WRITING AWARDS ANNOUNCED
Frankie Dettori, who will present the prizes
The senior winner of the 24th Martin Wills Writing Awards is 24-year-old Chris Humpleby from Newmarket, who wrote an impactful and hard-hitting article entitled Newmarket: more than meets the eye. The winners in the other categories were Sibeal O’Briain from Dublin (under 18), Lizzie Hankinson from Tidworth (under 15), Amina Nelson-Riggott from Middlewich (under 12) and Clara Crabtree from Bristol (under 26 tweet) - see below for details of all winners and runners up.
Brough Scott, Chairman of the judges, said:
"Encouraging contestants to express themselves in print is the central point of these Awards and this year's winners did that splendidly. Especially the under 26 winner, Chris Humpleby, whose challenging tale of an insider's view of Newmarket's unhappier side deserves reading and answering."
Judith Allen, Executive Director of Racing to School, formerly BHEST, and a judge, added:
“The Awards provide a meaningful and stimulating follow-up activity for young people taking part in our Racing to School education programme, and we were delighted to be involved in promoting them this year. I was particularly impressed by the variety of entries, and the creativity and imagination shown by the budding young writers.”
Gabrielle Bell, Education Officer of the National Horseracing Museum and a judge, said:
“It has been a wonderful opportunity to engage young people in the theatre of racing’s stories-past, present and future. I have read some imaginative and powerful pieces which have shown creativity, insight and passion for the subject.”
The 24th annual Martin 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, attracted 169 entries - a joint record with 2009 and 2010. Of these, 34 were in the under 26 category, 16 in the under 18 category, 51 in the under 15 category and 68 in the new under 12 category.
The introduction of an under 12 category and the numerous entries in the two junior categories reflected the Awards being organised by the Martin Wills Memorial Trust in association for the first time with two other charities: The National Horseracing Museum and Racing to School.
2016 winners and runners-up
The under 26 winner is 24-year-old Chris Humpleby, originally from Carlisle but now resident in Newmarket. He is Racing Manager for trainer Roger Varian and was previously Racing Secretary for trainer Ed Dunlop. At St Aidan’s County High School, Carlisle, he obtained an A* in English Literature, an A* in History and an A in Geography at A Levels. He then proceeded to Cambridge University, where he graduated with a 2.1 in History and a First in Education. In 2014, he completed the British Horseracing Authority Graduate Development Programme. He receives £1,000 for his article, Newmarket: more than meets the eye. The writer explains: “My article argues that racing must do more to protect the young and the vulnerable in Newmarket- a town that possesses a murkier underbelly than many might imagine”.
The under 26 runner up is 24-year-old Declan Delaney from London. He was educated at The John Fisher School, Purley and the University of Swansea, graduating with a 2.1 in History and Economics. He is now employed as a reinsurance underwriter in the City of London, but at the weekend is a bookmaker for Camross Racing with his father, Brendan, and brother, Gary. He receives £500 for his story, The closer at Lingfield. In his words: “It’s not quite Royal Ascot or Cheltenham, but an All Weather handicap at Lingfield provided me with my greatest thrill in racing - and a story worth telling”.
The under 18 winner is 17-year-old Sibeal O’Briain from Dublin. She attends The Teresian School in Dublin, where she is studying for her Leaving Certificate next year, following 10 As in her Junior Certificate. She receives £500 for her piece, What he knew, “which describes a young girl’s experience of the racing world and her relationship with her father”.
The under 18 runner up is 16-year-old Brian Dowling from Trim in Co. Meath. He attends St Patrick’s Classical School in Navan, where he, too, is preparing for his Leaving Certificate next year. He receives £250 for Twelve to one. Brian says: “My article was about my Nana, who always backed the same jockey”.
The under 15 winner is Lizzie Hankinson from Perham Down, nr Tidworth in Wiltshire, who was 14 at 1 September 2015 (the qualifying date) but is now 15. She attends Marlborough College, where she is studying for her GCSEs next year. She receives £250 for her article, The groom, “which tells the story of a young orphan boy, Muhammad, and his relationship with a racehorse in his care. The story is set in the Middle East, which acts as a dry and hot contrast to the lush racing ground of England”.
The under 15 runner up is 14-year-old Romany Whittall from Loscoe, nr Ripley in Derbyshire. She attends John Flamsteed Community School in nearby Denby, where she is studying for her GCSEs next year. Last year, she was joint third in the Year 8/9 Poetry category at the Ilkley Literature Festival. She receives £125 for Lookin’ for a racecourse, “about a girl who went to a racecourse to scatter her grandfather’s ashes, only to find it had been knocked down and turned into a housing estate with a children’s playground”.
The under 12 winner is Amina Nelson-Riggott from Middlewich in Cheshire, who was 11 at 1 September 2015 but is now 12. She is home educated by her mother, Becca. She has won prizes in competitions for new media and art. Her sister, Fureya, won the under 15 category in 2014. She receives £200 for The Grand National. She says: “An 11-year-old girl watches the Grand National and is completely carried away with the excitement of the race and the idea of being a jockey. She thinks of a way that she can race”.
The under 12 runner up is 10-year-old Jessica Henderson from Whitsbury, nr Fordingbridge in Hampshire. She attends Western Downland Primary School in nearby Rockbourne. She receives £100 for The shoe of the great white horse. Jessica says: “I was inspired to write my article because my father, Paul Henderson, was the farrier who shod Desert Orchid and two of the horse’s shoes are the centrepiece of our fireplace. I would also like to dedicate the story to Mr Rodney Boult, the work rider of Desert Orchid and a great family friend, who sadly passed away last year”.
The winning articles will be published, in the next few weeks, in the Racing Post and The Irish Field. A prizewinner could also have the opportunity of work experience at the Racing Post and of retaining for a year a bronze of two galloping horses by Gill Wiles.
The under 26 @WillsAwards racing tweet competition, on a non-fictional subject connected to racing, attracted 10 entries. The winner was 25-year-old Clara Crabtree from Bristol, where she works as a nanny whilst studying interior design part time. She was educated at Redland High School for Girls in Bristol and Oxford Brookes University, where she graduated in Animal Behaviour and Welfare. She also coxed the University Women’s Eight and Women’s Four. Her entry, for which she receives £250, was: “Anticipation, fascination, trepidation then elation or deflation. The key stages of Festival Fever, a chronic affliction”.
The judges were: Brough Scott (Chairman), three times Sports Feature Writer of the Year and twice Racing Writer of the Year; Judith Allen, Executive Director of Racing to School; Marcus Armytage, racing writer at The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and Horse & Hound; Gabrielle Bell, Education Officer at the National Horseracing Museum; Chris Cook, Deputy Racing Editor at The Guardian; Lee Mottershead, a racing writer at the Racing Post; Sean Magee, an author and journalist; and Catherine Wills, sister of Martin Wills, who is a DPhil art historian and a racehorse owner/breeder.
The prize winning entries can be read by clicking “The Winners” tab.
With Brough Scott delivering the eulogy and Frankie Dettori saying a few words before handing out the prizes, the presentation is being made at 12.30 today, Wednesday 13 April, in the Limekilns Room on the Rowley Mile Course, Newmarket (the room being kindly made available by Jockey Club Racecourses).
The Shortlist 2016
The shortlist totalled 24 (eight under 26, five under 18, five under 15, six under 12), as follows:
|Age at 1 Sept|
Walkhampton, nr Tavistock, Devon
Kinross, Perth and Kinross
Brookfield, nr Middlesbrough, Cleveland
Ballinagore, nr Kilbeggan, Co. Westmeath
|Hailsham, East Sussex
Banagher, Co. Offaly
Trim, Co. Meath
|Castor, nr Peterborough, Cambridgeshire
Perham Down, nr Tidworth, Wiltshire
Odiham, nr Hook, Hampshire
Thomastown, nr Edenderry, Co. Offaly
Loscoe, nr Ripley, Derbyshire
|Eastbourne, East Sussex
Whitsbury, nr Fordingbridge, Wiltshire
Rathevan, nr Portlaoise, Co. Laois
The Martin Wills Writing Awards commemorate Martin Wills, a journalist and amateur jockey who died in April 1992, aged 39. The Awards are organised by the Martin Wills Memorial Trust, a UK registered charity (number 1015017).
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