Equus Awards Response To Mollett

Dear Sir

The somewhat churlish comments about the outcome of this year’s Equus Media Awards, which were made by David Mollett in his “Mollet’s World” column, in last Wednesday’s Citizen, should really be challenged by a letter to that newspaper but since they referred to one of your columnists, Robyn Louw, I have chosen to use The Sporting Post to vent my spleen.

I had to agree with Mollett’s rating of the evening, as a whole, and must support his assertion that time should be allowed for more recipients to make some form of acceptance speech. The award made to Ronnie Napier was nothing short of embarrassing. As is done at the Oscar ceremony, when a special service award is presented to a person of stature in the film industry, someone who knows the recipient well, or has been closely associated with him or her, should be asked to pay a special tribute and the recipient should be invited to reply.

At the very least, the presentation should be properly scripted and the Master of ceremonies should have some pertinent words to say about the recipient.

But back to Mollett’s derogatory comments about the media awards, which really amounted to a slap in the face for judges, Alison Mackenzie and Howard Wright, who were taken to task, in essence, for choosing lightweights as winners. It is frighteningly plain that Mollett didn’t fully acquaint himself with the rules of the competition, which required entrants to submit two examples of their work. The judging criteria included the following:

* All entries received will be judged on research, accuracy and presentation.
* Work submitted must be well written or narrated, pertinent and must be of value to the sport of South African Horseracing.
* Loyal support and positive contribution or coverage of the sport during the South African Horseracing season is essential.

Nowhere was it suggested that the awards were confined to “racing’s frontline writers”, and Mollett’s incredulity that the judges could have overlooked some more established names than Robyn Louw beggars belief.

It was tantamount to suggesting that anyone who hadn’t paid his or her dues, as a writer or television journalist, shouldn’t bother to enter, as the competition was the exclusive preserve of some elitist “society of old hacks”. Not that I would consider any of the persons mentioned in his article as belonging to such a brigade; they are all hard-working and immensely talented in their respective fields.

Prior to the start of the awards ceremony, I whiled away the time by marking what I thought were the likely equine winners of the various categories and hazarded a guess at some of the human winners as well. I made Robyn Louw and Aidan Lithgow, even though I had a vested interest, as the sire, in his case, the most likely choices as the respective Media Awards recipients. I only wish that I had been able to place a bet on the outcome.

I didn’t know which of her pieces Robyn Louw had submitted but I was certain that her style of writing and the way she so often reaffirms the reasons why horse racing has been my lifelong passion would win the day.

In Aidan’s case, it was I who had encouraged him to enter his pieces on Sea Cottage and J J The Jet Plane’s Hong Kong triumph, though he was a reluctant starter, preferring to hang a low profile, at the best of times. However, having heard the latter insert being lauded by a former Tellytrack senior staffer as the best insert ever flighted on the channel, I was pretty sure that it would be highly regarded by the judges.

Thank goodness the judges were persons of complete integrity, without any agenda, or we might have seen the awards being handed out like wristwatches, for long service, as was clearly the case when Mr Mollett’s R30 000 worth of air travel was doled out two years ago.

Yes, it might seem unfair that a producer like Andrew Bon, who works so tirelessly to buoy horse racing’s sagging image, should have to be overlooked, but I’m sure he studied the rules of the competition, unlike Dave Mollett, and accepted the judges’ decision with grace.

Yours faithfully

Jimmy Lithgow

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