The 13th 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, have attracted the third highest ever number of entries (115 - 63 senior and 52 junior) and been won by a 17-year-old schoolboy - the youngest ever overall winner.
The under 26 winner is 17-year old Stefan Djukic from London, who is a pupil at St Paul's School, London and this summer will take A2 Levels in Economics, English and Italian. He receives £1,250 for his article, "Cash Flow", about how abundant winnings cause embarrassment for one generation, pride for the next. 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 Francesca Bardsley from Lidgate, near Newmarket, Suffolk, who is a journalist on the Newmarket Journal. She receives £750 for her article, "Fell in love with a horse".
The under 19s competition, for the next best under 19 entry, has been won by 17-year old Joanna Hubbard from Ashurst Wood, West Sussex, who is a pupil at Marlborough College, Wiltshire, and this summer will take AS Levels in English, Latin and Maths. She receives £500 for her article, "Lost at the races".
All three articles will be published in the Racing Post (on Sunday 17 April, Sunday 24 April and Sunday 8 May) and Irish Field (next Saturday).
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); Rachael English, a radio current affairs journalist who presents the "Five-Seven Live" programme on RTE; J. A. McGrath, Hotspur of The Daily Telegraph and Senior Racing Commentator of the BBC; Jon Ryan, Sports Editor of The Sunday Telegraph; and Catherine Wills, art historian sister of Martin Wills.
Brough Scott stated “13 years on, it was particularly good to have some really original entries, most especially the winning one. Stefan Djukic's piece was direct, surprising, clever, amusing and excellently written. Encouraging that sort of standard is exactly what these awards are all about.” From Saturday, the winning entries can be read on www.mrwc.org.uk/willswritingawards.
With regard to the overall entry, whereas at least 30 of the senior entries were well-written and enjoyable to read, their choice of subject was largely unoriginal. Many were bland, and only a few were unusual, entertaining or heartfelt enough to stand out. Others were badly constructed and mis-spelt. Several of the junior articles were impressive, showing great imagination, strong descriptive powers and an excellent use of words. The four best would all have been worthy winners of the junior awards, being vivid and immediate.
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)
020-7444 4166 (w)
Andrew Kavanagh (Trustee)
00 353-5997 73105
Stefan Djukic (winner, under 26s award)
07810-372 949 (m)
Francesca Bardsley (runner-up, under 26s award)
07761-648 532 (m)
Joanna Hubbard (winner, under 19s award)
07812-555 132 (m)
Please enter your email below to subscribe to our Newsletter where you will recieve information in every thing to do with the Martin Wills Writing Awards.