A future Dick Francis or Clement Freud? Young writers in horse racing awards announced

The 19th annual Wills Writing Awards, for creative writing (fact or fiction) around a horseracing theme by a young person resident in the UK or the Republic of Ireland, have attracted 118 entries. Of these, 57 were in the Under 26 category, 30 were in the Under 19 category, and 31 were in the Under 15 category.

Of the six prize-winners, five were girls, representing a second successive year of female dominance. However, the winner of the principal, Under 26 Award was male. The Republic of Ireland again outperformed, by providing the Under 26 winner and two others on the shortlist, albeit not to the extent of last year (two winners, one runner-up and four others on the shortlist).

The Under 26 winner is 23 year old Cathal Dennehy from Limerick, but currently resident in Dublin. He was runner-up for the 2009 Under 26 Awards and on the shortlist in 2010. Following a BA in Journalism from Dublin City University, he has recently obtained an MA in Film & Television Studies from the same establishment.  He would like to work in the media. He receives £1,250 for his article, A Closed Book, about the nostalgic reminiscences of an unsuccessful bookmaker.

The Under 26 runner-up is 21 year old Hannah Caddick from Worcester Park in South London. She is in her third year studying for a BA in English Literature at Cardiff University, having obtained straight As in her A Levels – Art, Critical Thinking, English Literature and Psychology – at Nonsuch High School for Girls in Sutton, Surrey. She receives £750 for her article, The Deed, a fictional account of the suffragette, Emily Davison, throwing herself under the King’s horse in the 1913 Derby.

The Under 19 winner is 17 year old Megan Woodward from Cradley Heath in the West Midlands. She attends King Edward VI Sixth Form College in nearby Stourbridge, where she is studying for her ASs in Biology, Classical Civilisation, English Literature & Language, and History, having obtained six A* and three A grades in her GCSEs.  She receives £500 for her article, Jockey Bread, about the pressures on a jockey’s wife.

The Under 19 runner-up is 15 year old Caitlan Hill from Liverton, near Newton Abbot, in Devon. She is studying for 11 GCSEs at Newton Abbot College. She has had poetry published from past competitions and, after graduating, hopes to write and illustrate her own work. She receives £250 for her article, Shergar, a sensitive tale of Shergar’s theft and demise.

The Under 15 winner is 12 year old Abbie Taylor from Ironville on the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border. She is in her first year at nearby Swanwick Hall School and also attends an after-school literature study group at Ironville Primary School, which she left in July 2010. She receives £250 for her article, Out of Nowhere, a fantasy involving an emaciated retired racehorse.

The Under 15 runner-up is 14 year old Dillon Leet from London, who attends St Paul’s Girls’ School in London, as did the Under 19 winner in 2010 and the Under 19 and Under 15 runners-up in 2009. She is studying for 11 GCSEs and has been a winner of short story competitions in and out of school. She receives £125 for her article, Running without Legs, a young child’s introduction to racing.

A selection of winning articles will be published, in the next few weeks, in the Racing Post and The Irish Field. The Under 26 winner will also have the opportunity of work experience at the Racing Post.

The judges were: Brough Scott (Chairman), three times Sports Feature Writer of the Year, Racing Writer of the Year in both 1977 and 2010, and a leading figure in three spheres of racing journalism- the national press, the trade press and broadcasting; David Ashforth, Racing Writer of the Year in both 1996 and 2008, who has recently retired as a senior writer and columnist at the Racing Post; Matthew Engel, who worked at  The Guardian for almost 25 years (including as Washington Correspondent), edited 12 editions of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack and now has a column in the Financial Times; Sean Magee, a versatile racing author and journalist who has collaborated with several leading racing personalities, most recently with Mick Fitzgerald in The Cheltenham World of Jump Racing;   and Catherine Wills, sister of Martin Wills, who is a DPhil Art Historian and a racehorse owner/breeder.

Brough Scott stated “Judging the Martin Wills Awards is one of the highlights of my year. This time, once again, it shows the flame still burns”.

The prize-winning entries can be read on the website (www.willswritingawards.co.uk) under “The Winners” tab.

The Awards are being presented by Brough Scott at 12 noon today in the Limekilns Room in the Millennium Grandstand on the Rowley Mile Course, Newmarket, the room again being kindly lent by the Racecourse. The prize-winners will additionally receive an expenses paid day’s racing plus, for the winners, a tour of Henry Cecil’s and James Fanshawe’s yards.

The shortlist totalled 24 (12 Under 26, six Under 19 and six Under 15), as follows:

Name – Age (at Jan 1) – City/Town – County – Country

Under 26

Hannah Caddick – 21 – London – UK

John Condren – 24 – Athy – Kildare – Rep of Ireland

Emma Cully – 21 – Waterfall – Cork – Rep of Ireland

Cathal Dennehy – 23 – Limerick – Limerick – Rep of Ireland

Laura Gibb – 20 – Wakefield – West Yorkshire – UK

Zoe Gray – 21 – Bridgwater – Somerset – UK

Jack Grummitt – 22 – Newcastle – Tyne and Wear – UK

Chris Humpleby – 19 – Carlisle – Cumbria – UK

Sarah Jones – 19 – Tenbury Wells – Worcestershire – UK

Victoria Parker – 25 – London – UK

Louise Powell – 19 – Middlesbrough – Cleveland – UK

Susan Sparkes – 24 – Stevenage – Hertfordshire – UK

Under 19

Clare Alexander – 16 – Glenrothes – Fife – UK

Amy Clarke – 18 – Bognor Regis – West Sussex – UK

Caitlan Hill – 15 – Newton Abbot – Devon – UK

Tom McKenna – 16 – Liverpool – Merseyside – UK

Theodora Murray-Jones – 16 – London – UK

Megan Woodward – 17 – Cradley Heath – West Midlands – UK

Under 15

Daniel Archer – 14 – Epsom – Surrey – UK

Kathryn Cussons – 14 – London – UK

William Hargreaves – 14 – Shrewsbury – Salop – UK

Dillon Leet – 14 – London – UK

Abbie Taylor – 12 – Ironville – Derbyshire – UK

Rosanna Verdon – 13 – Adderbury – Oxfordshire – UK

The Wills Writing Awards commemorate Martin Wills, a journalist and horseman, who died in April 1992, aged 39. The Awards are organised by the Martin Wills Memorial Trust, a UK registered charity (number 1015017).


Brough Scott (Chairman of the Judges and a Trustee)

01483-277 379/07860-258 881


Charles Ponsonby (Chairman of the Trustees)

01993-811 717 /07789-202 312


Andrew Kavanagh (a Trustee)

00 353-59 97 73 105


Cathal Dennehy (Under 26 winner)

00 353-86 31 18 090

Hannah Caddick (Under 26 runner-up)

07970-884 007

Megan Woodward (Under 19 winner)

07941-049 423

Caitlan Hill (Under 19 runner-up)

01626-821 451

Distributed by Racenews

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