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Calling all budding Dick Francis-types

January 8, 2011

Budding young Dick Francis-types have the opportunity to win £3125 in prizes for creative writing - fact or fiction - around a horse-racing theme.

Dick Francis was a prolific racing novelist. Young writers have the chance to try their skill in the genre in a competition launched today.

The Wills Writing Awards for 2011 were launched today, in categories for under-26s, under-19s and under-15s.

"The Wills Writing Awards offer the two things aspirant writers always want - fame and money! They are the best thing young racing scribblers have ever had," said Brough Scott, chairman of the judges for the ninth successive year.

The annual awards, started in 1993 in memory of journalist and amateur jockey Martin Wills, are for creative writing around a horseracing theme.

They are open to young people resident in the UK or the Republic of Ireland. Each age category offers substantial prizes, the main one being £1250.

Previous winners have gone on to write for the national and racing press, news agencies and broadcast media.

Writers are invited to submit a single article by February 28, 2011. Employees of the national and racing press, in a journalistic capacity, and previous winners in their category are ineligible. Entries are judged anonymously.

Particular importance will be attached by the judges to originality, imagination, entertainment and construction. Quality of writing is key; a detailed knowledge of horseracing is unnecessary.

The maximum word counts are 1200 for the under-26 and under-19 categories, and 800 for the under-15 category.

The article must not be published prior to the announcement of the winners of the awards.

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 Racing Post.

The awards will be announced and presented at Newmarket's prestigious Craven Meeting in mid-April 2011, 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.

Martin Wills
The six 2011 judges are: 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; Marcus Armytage, racing writer at The Daily Telegraph and Grand National-winning jockey; 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 for 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, DPhil 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.



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