The Martin Wills Writing Awards, which launched in 1993 in memory of journalist and amateur jockey Martin Wills, are now in their 24th year and open for entries on 1st October 2015.
For the first time, the Martin Wills Memorial Trust is organising the Awards in association with The National Horseracing Museum and BHEST, the British Horseracing Education & Standards Trust; all three are registered charities.
Brough Scott, Chairman of the judges for the 14th successive year, says: “For almost a quarter of a century the Martin Wills Writing Awards have offered young writers a chance of recognition. The new partnership with the National Horseracing Museum and BHEST makes the opportunity stronger than it’s ever been.”
Gabrielle Bell, Education Officer of the National Horseracing Museum, says: “We are delighted to be working with the Martin Wills Writing Awards. Partnerships through learning programmes are strong and the Martin Wills Writing Awards offer an exciting opportunity to discover, share and create racing’s stories.”
Judith Allen, Executive Director of BHEST, says: “Taking part in a ‘Racing to School’ day gives young people a unique insight into the world of racing, an ideal way to trigger their creative skills and encourage participation in the Martin Wills Writing Awards.”
Frankie Dettori, one of the world’s most famous jockeys, will present the prizes in April 2016.
The Awards are for fine writing (fact or fiction) on a horseracing theme of a sort suitable for publication in the Racing Post or The Irish Field by young people resident in the UK or the Republic of Ireland. The Awards have four categories: under 26, under 18 (NOT under 19, as in recent years), under 15 and under 12. The under 12 category, as well as the earlier opening and closing of the Awards, reflect the new association. For the first time, there will also be £200 and a trophy prize for the winning school in the three younger categories.
Those aged under 26/18/15/12 on 1st September 2015 are invited to submit a single typewritten article from 1st October 2015 until 31st January 2016 via the ‘Entry Requirements’ section of the Awards’ website www.willswritingawards.co.uk. To help entrants get started, articles may commence with the words (although there is no obligation), “My day at the races started….” or “Excitement danced in the sky like….”
There is also a Twitter competition, as in 2015, to which anyone under 26 is eligible to enter (apart from the 2015 winner).
Employees of the national and racing press, in a journalistic capacity, are ineligible for the under 26 categories. Previous winners in their category (or its near equivalent) are also ineligible. Entries are judged anonymously.
A detailed knowledge of horseracing is unnecessary. No previous experience of published or competitive writing is required. Entrants are strongly advised to consult the FAQs (in the Awards section of the website), as well as the ‘Lines of Brilliance’ section and the Feedback press releases 2007–15 (in the News section).
The permissible word counts are 800–1,000 (under 26’s/18’s), 500–600 (under 15’s) and 200–500 (under 12’s).
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 eight prizes, for the winner and runner-up in each category of the main competition, are £1,000/£500 (under 26’s), £500/£250 (under 18’s), £250/£125 (under 15’s) and £200/£100 (under 12’s). In addition, the winners will be published in the Racing Post and The Irish Field. The under 26 winner will have the opportunity of work experience at the Racing Post and the option to retain for a year an attractive bronze of two galloping horses. There is no obligation on the judges to award prizes if the standard is insufficient.
The @WillsAwards Racing Tweet competition, which is in its second year, should focus on a non-fictional subject connected to racing. The tweet should be submitted to @willsawards #comp using the 121 remaining characters only and tweeted no later than 31st January 2016. It should be in the participant’s own words and not lifted from any existing writing on racing. There should only be one entry per person and the entrant should be under the age of 26 on 1st September 2015 and resident in the UK or the Republic of Ireland. The judges will select the winning entry, which carries a prize of £250.
The prizes will be presented at Newmarket’s prestigious Craven Meeting on Wednesday 13th April 2016 by Frankie Dettori, when all nine prize winners will be given an expenses paid day’s racing, including a reception in a private luncheon room generously made available by Jockey Club Racecourses. There will also be a tour of James Fanshawe’s historic Pegasus Stables, built by the greatest of 19th century jockeys, Fred Archer.
This year’s nine judges are: Brough Scott (Chairman), three times Sports Feature Writer of the Year and twice Racing Writer of the Year; Judith Allen, Executive Director of BHEST; Marcus Armytage, racing correspondent for The Daily Telegraph and Horse & Hound and Grand National winning jockey in record time; Gabrielle Bell, Education Officer of the National Horseracing Museum; Chris Cook, Deputy Racing Editor of The Guardian, who was Racing Reporter of the Year 2014; Sean Magee, whose book projects include Horse Racing Heroes, in collaboration with the late great Sir Peter O’Sullevan, a judge in the inaugural year of the Awards; Lee Mottershead, a racing writer for the Racing Post; Amy Starkey, a Regional Director of Jockey Club Racecourses; and Catherine Wills, Martin Wills’ sister, who holds a D Phil and is a knowledgeable racehorse owner and breeder.
The Martin Wills Memorial Trust is a UK registered charity which commemorates Martin Wills, an amateur jockey and journalist, who died in April 1992, aged 39.
Information on the Awards is available at www.willswritingawards.co.uk and also via Facebook – Wills-Writing-Awards and Twitter @WillsAwards.