Scottish student takes equestrian writing prize

A Scottish journalism student has won the Martin Wills Award for equine journalism.

Alistair Millar, 24, from Glasgow, is studying for a postgraduate diploma in newspaper journalism at Strathclyde University. He receives £1,250 for his article “Don’t Look a Gift Horse” about a smug, disillusioned teenager who decides to take his employer for a ride.

The awards, now in the 17th year, are run by the Martin Wills Memorial Trust in memory of the former jockey and journalist who died in 1992 aged 39.

There are three categories – under-26, under-19 and under-15 – for factual or fictional writing on any aspect of horseracing.

This year’s awards attracted a record total of 169 across the three categories.

The under-26 runner-up is Cathal Dennehy, 21, from Limerick. He is studying for a Masters in Film and TV Studies at Dublin City University, having already obtained a BA in Journalism. He has represented Ireland in the under 20 and under 23 categories for cross-country running. He receives £750 for his article, “Novice Chaser”, about introducing a friend to racing and betting.

The under-19 winner is 17-year-old Jack Cantillon from Johnstown, near Naas in Co Kildare, where his family is involved in thoroughbred racing and breeding. He receives £500 for his article “Tips Today, Exams Tomorrow”, about a student’s quest to place a bet during his mock exams.

The under-15 winner is Tom McKenna from Liverpool, who was aged 14 at the qualifying date (January 1) and is a pupil at Liverpool Blue Coat School. He receives £250 for his article “The March Meeting”, about the essence, thrill and beauty of horse-racing.

A selection of winning articles will be published, in the next few weeks, in the Racing Post and The Irish Field. At least some of the winners will also have the opportunity of work experience at the Racing Post. The winning entries are also to be published on the David Wills website.

The judges included Brough Scott (Chairman), founder of the Racing Post, Marcus Armytage, racing writer at the Daily Telegraph, Tim Cox, the former worldwide media director of the BBDO advertising agency, and Michael Howard, the former Home Secretary and leader of the Conservative party.

Brough Scott stated “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”.

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.

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