Kerr, Whitaker and McCann get treble up for Post
It was a case of treble up for the Racing Post at the 50th Horserace Writers & Photographers Association's Derby Awards in London on Monday, with Tom Kerr, Patrick McCann and Edward Whitaker emerging victorious.
Kerr, who had been nominated for the first time, scooped the racing writer of the year award, McCann won picture of the year for the second consecutive year, while Whitaker was crowned photographer of the year for a record-breaking seventh time.
The awards were held at the Lancaster hotel and were again sponsored by the Qatar Racing & Equestrian Club.
Kerr came out on top in a typically competitive category as he edged out freelance Kevin Blake and Guardian duo Chris Cook and Greg Wood.
A delighted Kerr said: “It is a major honour to pick up an award like this as it is the first time I have been nominated, and to be mentioned in the same sentence as some of the people who have won it in the past is unbelievable.
"I have never won anything in my life before barring the odd bet, so I'm over the moon to be recognised in this way. It is a real privilege to be named racing writer of the year and, indeed, to be a racing writer for the Racing Post and involved in this wonderful sport.
"I would like to sincerely thank everybody who voted for me, and all those who have been such a help over the years.”
It was McCann's stunning shot of horses jumping a hurdle at Bellewstown under the dome of a rainbow that gained him back-to-back successes in the picture of the year section.
He said: “I am truly honoured to win the award for the second time considering how strong the category has become. I couldn't be more pleased and would like to say a big thank-you to all those who have helped me over the years.
“At least this time around I have won the award in one piece as my winning photograph last year was taken in an incident at Cheltenham that resulted in me breaking my tibia and fibia."
He added: "It’s an honour to work for the Racing Post in Ireland and I'm one happy man.”
McCann was also shortlisted for the photographer of the year award, as were Alan Crowhurst and Hugh Routledge, but it was Whitaker who yet again landed the honour.
"I'm delighted to win this prestigious prize again,” said Whitaker. "To win something like this once is a great honour, but seven times is unbelievable as it gets harder every year – but the competition keeps me on my toes!"
Racing Post editor Bruce Millington said: “I’m so proud of our three winners, and also of Lee Mottershead and Jon Lees for having been shortlisted in the reporter of the year category.
"Tom and Patrick have come so far in such a short time and their talent and hunger makes working with them a massive honour. And Edward is just the master of his craft, one of the all-time great sports photographers, never mind racing photographer.”
Reporter of the year was Marcus Townend of the Daily Mail, Nick Luck was named broadcaster of the year and Timeform's Geoff Greetham received the outstanding achievement award.
QREC extends backing
Sponsorship by the Qatar Racing & Equestrian Club (QREC) has become an ever more familiar feature of the European racing landscape, with Glorious Goodwood and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe enjoying the club's backing, and it has now extended its support for the HWPA Derby Awards for a second three-year term up to 2018.
Speaking at the awards lunch, Nasser Sherida Al Kaabi, the QREC general manager, thanked the media for its reporting of these major meetings and encouraged coverage of the international events that QREC stages on home turf at Al Rayyan racecourse, including the highlight of the season in Doha, the Emir's Sword festival.
"This year’s renewal saw more international visitors and greater worldwide media coverage than ever before," Al Kaabi said, "and I would like to thank those of you here today who contributed to its success.
"We look forward to welcoming you back to Al Rayyan for the Qatar Derby festival later this month [December 28 and 29] or for the HH The Emir 26th International Equestrian Sword festival in February next year."