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Alastair Down and Edward Whitaker - 2012 HWPA Awards

Alastair Down and Edward Whitaker show off their HWPA awards

  PICTURE: Dan Abraham  

HWPA awards for Post's Down and Whitaker

ALASTAIR DOWN became the first writer to win the top prize in racing journalism three times when he was crowned Racing Writer of the Year on Monday.

His Racing Post colleague Edward Whitaker was also hailed the best in his profession, receiving the award as Photographer of the Year for a remarkable fifth time.

The pair were honoured at the 46th annual Horserace Writers' and Photographers' Association Derby Awards in London, an event supported by Boylesports, Spinal Research and the Spinal Injuries Association.

Down was handed the Clive Graham Trophy, which he also won in 1994 and 1999, at the climax of Monday's lunch. He came out on top from a shortlist which included Racing Post colleagues Lee Mottershead (last year's winner) and Peter Thomas.

Down said: "It is very special and I have to say I am very emotional about it, I was terribly nervous.

"I thought if I had a chance of winning it for a third time this was the year because I have had such good feedback from the public. They come up and say they have read this piece or that, that's what makes the job worth doing when the public come up and talk to you."

The prize, voted for by HWPA members, was recognition of Down's output in the previous 12 months which included a moving tribute to his late Channel 4 colleague Lord Oaksey.

A new John Oaksey Trophy, given to the Racing Reporter of the Year and presented by Lady Oaksey, went to Guardian journalist Chris Cook, a former editor of the Racing & Football Outlook.

Whitaker, whose work has brought him recognition outside his own field and earned him the crown of Sports Photographer of the Year at the Sports Journalism Awards in 2009, first received the racing honour in 1999 and was also successful in 2002, 2003 and 2006.

Whitaker said: "Obviously I have got to thank everyone at the Racing Post. Without their help and without their support I wouldn't be able to do half of what I do."

Down's fellow Post columnist Richard Hughes, who was crowned champion for the first time at Doncaster last month, was voted Jockey of the Year - an award he also picked up in 2002.

Clare Balding, who had such a memorable Olympics, was named Broadcaster of the Year for the first time since she landed the inaugural prize in 2004, and the BBC racing team as a whole were honoured with the President's Trophy.

And there was further glory for the connections of Frankel.

Khalid Abdullah was named Owner of the Year while Sir Henry Cecil won the accolade of Trainer of the Year for the eighth time, having won it for the firs time in 1976.

John Dunlop, who retired from the training ranks at the end of the Flat season, was also recognised and picked up the George Ennor Trophy for Outstanding Achievement.

Roll of honour:
George Ennor Trophy - John Dunlop
Jockey of the Year - Richard Hughes
Owner of the Year - Khalid Abdullah
Trainer of the Year - Sir Henry Cecil
International Trainer of the Year - Marco Botti
Photographer of the Year - Edward Whitaker
Picture of the Year - Tracy Roberts
Broadcaster of the Year - Clare Balding
President's Trophy - BBC Racing team
Reporter of the Year - Chris Cook
Racing Writer of the Year - Alastair Down

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