They’re off! Racing writing competition opens

Details for the 17th annual awards for writing, either fact or fiction, on or with a background of any aspect of horse racing are announced today by the Martin Wills Memorial Trust.

The awards are targeted at young people resident in the UK or the Republic of Ireland. Categories are under-26, under-19 or under-15 on January 1 this year, and candidates are asked to submit a single article.

The organisers stress that particular importance will be attached to originality, enthusiasm and use of language. Quality of writing is key but a detailed knowledge of horseracing is unnecessary.

Past prize winners include Chris McGrath (now of The Independent), Donn McClean (now of the Sunday Times), Theodora Fairley (now of the the BBC), Harry Macadam (later of The Sun), Ben Sheppard (now of Agence France Presse) and Amy Bennett (later of the Racing Post).

Articles can be submitted via the Trust’s website under the “entry requirements” section.

Articles have to be submitted by February 28. Maximum word counts are 1,200 for under-26s and under-19s and 8oo for under-15s. Employees of the national and racing press and previous winners in their category are ineligible.

The article must not be published prior to the announcement of the winners of the awards. No correspondence will be entered into and the judges’ decision is final. Schools should not submit more than three entries per class.

The six prizes, for the winner and runner-up in each category, are £1,250/£750 (under 26), £500/£250 (under 19) and £250/£125 (under 15) – a total of £3,125. The winners will be published in the Racing Post and The Irish Field. The under-26 winner will also have the opportunity of work experience at the London offices of the Racing

The awards will be announced and presented at the Craven Meeting at Newmarket on Wednesday, April 15, when all six prize winners will be given an expenses-paid day’s racing, including a reception in a private luncheon room generously made available by the racecourse. There will also be a tour of two leading stables.

This year’s six judges are: Brough Scott (chairman), Editorial Director of the Racing Post and for many years Sports Feature Writer of the Sunday Telegraph and chief presenter of Channel 4 Racing; Marcus Armytage, racing writer at the Daily Telegraph and a Grand National-winning jockey; Tim Cox, former Worldwide Media Director of
the BBDO advertising agency and owner of a racing library; Michael Howard, former Home Secretary and Leader of the Opposition and one of the leading politicians of his generation; Bruce Millington, Editor of
the Racing Post; and Catherine Wills, DPhil, the Art Historian sister of Martin Wills and a member of the Jockey Club.

The Martin Wills Memorial Trust commemorates Martin Wills, an amateur jockey, point-to-point rider, racing enthusiast and journalist who died in April 1992, aged 39.

Information on the awards is available on Enquiries to Charles Ponsonby on 0207 367 8851 (tel) / 0207 367 8899 (fax) / (e-mail) or, in Ireland, Andrew Kavanagh on 059-97 73105 (tel) / 059-97 73420 (fax) / (email).

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