I went to the HWPA (Horseracing Writers and Photographers Association) awards on Monday. Our table was a mix of Betfair horseracing team and journalists – I had John Cobb (Independent Racing editor) on my right and Guardian writer Greg Wood and his wife on my left. Matt Williams (RP) and Rob Shepherd (NOTW) were also on the table.
The general mood was a little sombre at times as these are tough times for the papers. It’s a whole combination of factors – evolution of the internet and greater choice than ever on TV, the coming recession etc. People simply aren’t reading as many newspapers as they once did, and widescale redundancies across the sector are in the offing.
I slipped out briefly to listen in to Shepherd’s Warning running at Wolver. No good. Richard Kingscote was negative after the race – he thinks she doesn’t want to do it any more. I may retire her now – I’m looking into one last race but if there isn’t one I’ll probably give up.
Most of the early awards were predictable. The main award – journalist of the year – came last, and Greg was one of four shortlisted. It went to David Ashforth, possibly for his coverage of the Fallon trial. He’s very well liked in the writing community and was clearly a popular winner – I did a long interview with him last year and he’s an extremely pleasant and genuine (and I suspect modest) guy. He’s also had a tough year with prostate cancer, my charitable cause for the month of November, which he’s borne with his customary good humour.