Mar 032023

Two Manitoba Writers Nominated for Sovereign Award

George Williams, Ivan Bigg among five scribes nominated for prestigious award

The 48th Annual Sovereign Awards showcasing excellence in Canadian horse racing will take place on April 13, 2023 at Universal Eventspace in Vaughan, Ontario.


Two Manitoba writers are among the nominations for the 2022 Sovereign Awards!

Congratulations to Winnipeg Free Press horse racing columnist George Williams and Canadian Thoroughbred contributor Ivan Bigg, who are listed among the five finalists in the Sovereign Awards Writing category for 2022!

The prestigious Sovereign Awards celebrate outstanding human and equine achievements in Canadian Thoroughbred racing and breeding each year and are awarded annually by the Jockey Club of Canada in a range of categories, including horses, trainers, jockeys, writing, photography and digital audio/visual and broadcast, in recognition of excellence in Canadian thoroughbred racing.

Williams (pictured above) has won four Sovereign Awards (1992, 1995, 1998, 2000), but it was the first nomination for Bigg, who said he was pleasantly surprised by the nomination.

Williams has been writing about horse racing for 30 years, first for the Daily Racing Form at Assiniboia Downs and Woodbine, with select pieces in the Blood Horse and Thoroughbred Times, then on to a regular column in the Winnipeg Sun, and finally to the Winnipeg Free Press, where his weekly horse racing articles have appeared for the past nine years.

Rich Strike, out of the Manitoba-bred mare Gold Strike, wins 2022 Kentucky Derby. (Jeff Roberson / The Associated Press photo)
“It’s hard to believe I’ve been doing this for 33 years,” said Williams. “To be nominated 30 years after winning my first Sovereign Award is very satisfying. The writers that are nominated this year are excellent and I congratulate all of them.

“To be part of a list of winners that includes Canadian writing icons and Hall of Famers like Milt Dunnell and Jim Coleman always felt special to me. I’m thankful to all the horsepeople, organizations and horses who have helped me along the way. I couldn’t have done any of this without them. It’s been a great ride!”

Williams’ story was about Manitoba-bred mare Gold Strike, the dam of 2022 Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike, the second longest shot ($163.60) ever to win the Derby. Williams interviewed the owner/breeder of Gold Strike, Winnipegger Dick Bonnycastle, the former owner of Harlequin Enterprises, the world’s largest publisher of romantic fiction, and talked about how Manitoba was a place where you could raise a world-class racehorse.

Bigg is no stranger to most of you. As a marketing consultant to Assiniboia Downs in the early 2000s, he started the predecessor of this column, The Insider, which he wrote for 16 years before becoming a freelancer for the Canadian Thoroughbred. His weekly “Bettor’s Edge” column will resume in the Canadian Thoroughbred in April.

Ivan Bigg’s “Bettor’s Edge” column will resume in the Canadian Thoroughbred in April.
Bigg said his Sovereign-nominated piece — about two full-brother horses winning their first starts just two days apart — was submitted to the Jockey Club of Canada at the urging of his Canadian Thoroughbred editor.

Bigg’s proudest moment last year, he said, was being the sole public handicapper to predict the top three finishers in the Queen’s Plate, including 16-1 second-place finisher Hall of Dreams, which prompted Woodbine to invite him to write a column predicting the outcome of the Woodbine Mile.

Both Williams and Bigg said they knew they were up against tough competition this year, including previous Sovereign Award winners Dave Briggs and Chris Lomon, and veteran Daily Racing Form handicapper and columnist Ron Gierkink. Links to all the nominated stories appear below.

The winners will be announced, along with the other Sovereign Award winners and Canada’s Horse of the Year during the 48th Annual Sovereign Awards Ceremony on the evening of Thursday, April 13, 2023, at Universal Eventspace in Vaughan, Ontario.

Pick your favourites and see if you’re right!

2022 Sovereign Awards – Nominated Media Stories

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.