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Tuesday, March 24, 2009


The judges of the 2009 Martin Wills Writing Awards met yesterday, over lunch at the Turf Club in London SW1, to select a winner and a runner-up in the three categories – under 26, under 19 and under 15. The winners and runners-up will be announced on Wednesday, April 15, when the presentation will be made at Newmarket Racecourse.

The judges were Brough Scott (Chairman), Marcus Armytage, Tim Cox, Michael Howard, Sean Magee, Bruce Millington and Catherine Wills. Brough Scott was chairing the judges for the seventh successive year, having succeeded John Oaksey, who celebrated his 80th birthday on March 21, and was Chairman of the judges for the first 10 years of the Awards.

The record entry of 169 (of which 64 were under 26, 44 were under 19 and 61 were under 15) had previously been reduced to the following shortlist of 20 (8, 6 and 6, respectively):

2009 Martin Wills Writing Awards Shortlist

Under 26
Steven Bonnick 24 Walsall, Staffs
John Condren 22 Athy, Co. Kildare
Cathal Dennehy 21 Dublin
Sam Hoskins 23 Cirencester, Glos
Meg Jorsh 24 Carlisle, Cumbria
Alistair Millar 23 Glasgow
Susan Sparkes 22 Stevenage, Herts
Samantha Walsh 20 Preston, Lancs

Under 19
Jack Cantillon 17 Naas, Co. Kildare Newbridge College
Theo Cowper 16 Royston, Herts Oundle School
Morgan Curtis 17 London St Paul's Girls' School
Julia Goroszeniuk 16 London St Paul's Girls' School
James Hollingshead 17 Cheltenham, Glos Pate’s Grammar School
Chloe Webster 16 Marlborough, Wilts Marlborough College

Under 15
Lucy Eddis 10 Colchester, Essex Littlegarth School
Eleanor Flaherty 14 Chigwell, Essex Bancroft’s School
Francesca Klempner 13 Sheffield, Yorkshire At home
Tom McKenna 14 Liverpool, Merseyside Liverpool Blue Coat School
Theodora Murray-Jones 14 London St Paul's Girls' School
Natasha Warby 13 Potters Bar, Herts City of London School for Girls


Fifty percent of professionally-ridden English winners at the Cheltenham Festival were partnered by Pony Racing graduates and the 2009 season gets underway at Towcester Racecourse on Sunday, April 12, during which more talent is sure to emerge.

Budding jockeys bidding to make their mark in the sport of horseracing will be competing in the first of the 2009 Charles Owen Pony Racing series, which takes place at 23 racecourses between April and October, culminating with The Finals at Cheltenham Racecourse for the first time on Saturday, October 17.

Points will be accumulated throughout the Series, awarded on a sliding scale for winning and placed rides, with the top 15 qualifying to compete in The Finals at Cheltenham which will see the crème de la crème of Pony Racing take centre stage at the home of Jump racing.

Felix de Giles and Rhys Flint are just two of Pony Racing’s protégés making their mark in the professional sport, with more due to hit the headlines and become household names in the future.

A P McCoy, the champion jockey, said: “There are already some seriously talented jockeys in the Weighing Room who progressed from Pony Racing, not least Rhys Flint who is showing a few of us ‘oldies’ how to ride winners! The improvement in young jockeys starting out is obvious and Pony Racing is now a proper grounding for aspiring jockeys in this country.”

Rebecca Morgan, Chief Executive of The Pony Racing Authority, added: “We are already seeing the results of Pony Racing. Felix de Giles, our inaugural Pony Racing champion in 2004, rode his first Festival winner last month and there is a great pool of talent that has emerged from Pony Racing into Point-to-Pointing. It is only a matter of time until many more progress and become professional jockeys. The competence and skill of English riders when they are 16 and able to ride professionally is now far greater than it was before Pony Racing was introduced and we are now seeing some really talented individuals come through the ranks.”

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