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Wednesday, April 18, 2007


The 15th 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 equal highest ever number of entries - 132. Having regard to the exceptionally high number of under 19 entries – 88 – a third category, under 15, has been created.

The under 26 winner is 25-year old Fabrice Tomlin from Reading, who has a 2:1 in English and French Literature from Reading University and is currently on a gap year before embarking on a Masters Degree. He has ambitions to become a journalist. He receives £1,250 for his article “Corporatism – the Scourge of Racing”. In addition, he will retain for a year a bronze trophy of two galloping horses by Gill Wiles. The under 26 runner-up is 24-year old Catherine Deshayes from West Kensington, London, who has a 2:1 in English Literature from Exeter University and has recently started work as a freelance journalist. She receives £750 for her article, “Best Dressed Lady”.

The under 19 winner is 16-year old Mark Crawford from Oaksey, near Malmesbury,Wilts, who is at Radley College, Oxon, studying for AS and A2 Levels in Chemistry, Classical Civilisation, English and History. He receives £500 for his article “Regret”, about an injured jockey.

The under 15 winner is 13-year old Caitriona Cox from Santon, near Douglas in the Isle of Man, a pupil at King William’s College, Castletown. She receives £250 for her article “Cleaning Up”, about a racecourse cleaner.

All four 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.

Catherine Reeves, aged 18, from Edinburgh, and Christina Maria Drollas, aged 14, from Wimbledon, London, were highly commended in the under 19 and under 15 categories, respectively, and both receive a book.

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); Lisa Hancock, Managing Director of Newmarket Racecourses; Sean Magee, whose books include “Arkle: the life and legacy of ‘Himself’” and who is currently collaborating with Lord Derby on the Ouija Board book; Barry Newcombe, Chairman of the Sports Journalists’ Association and UK Olympic Press Attache; and Catherine Wills, art historian sister of Martin Wills.

Brough Scott stated “In 15 years, this was the highest quality of entries yet. That may sound “he would say that, wouldn’t he”, but it’s true. There was some fine writing which didn’t actually get the nod, but the winners were terrific: the precociously cool perspective of Caitriona Cox’s “Cleaning Up”, the poignant observation of Mark Crawford’s “Regret”, the riotous image of Catherine Deshayes’ “Best Dressed Lady” and finally the brilliant, scathing polemic of Fabrice Tomlin’s “Corporatism – the Scourge of Racing.”

“The whole idea of these Martin Wills Awards was to enthuse young writers with a racing interest. These winners are a wonderful confirmation of that original intention.” The winning entries can be read on www.mrwc.org.uk/willswritingawards.

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 Millennium Suite, 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 April 1992, aged 39.

For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink Archive

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