Photographer Doulgas Lees of Warrenton, Va., has won the 2007 Media Eclipse Award for Photography with his picture "Down to Earth," the National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced Dec. 21.
The photo, taken Oct. 20, is of jockey Will Haynes and his mount, Navesink View, tumbling over a fence at the International Gold Cup at Great Meadow Race Course in The Plains, Va. It appeared in the sports section of the Fauquier Times Democrat on Oct. 24.
This is the second Media Eclipse Award for photography for the 57-year-old Lees, who won his first bronze statue in 1978 for a steeplechase photo also published in the Fauquier Democrat. Lees was also an honorable mention for the photography Eclipse in 1980, 1981, and 1994.
“It feels phenomenal. I’m just blown away to win again,” said Lees, a freelance photographer whose photographs have appeared in several equine publications and hard cover books in the Mid-Atlantic region over the past forty years. “I’ve been trying for many years since 1978 to get another award, so this is a great thrill. The most important thing about this photo is that both the horse and the rider were alright after the spill.”
In the Gold Cup, a $50,000 timber stakes at 3 ½ miles, Lees captured 8-year-old gelding Navesink View pitched forward on his front two legs over a four-foot fence, while jockey Haynes is upside down, still holding the horse’s reins before landing on the ground. Both horse and rider were uninjured. Lees took the photo at approximately 75 feet from the fence with a 70-200 telephoto zoom lens.
Honorable mention is the photography category went to Michael Clevenger, whose photograph of Street Sense winning the Kentucky Derby was published in the Louisville Courier-Journal on May 6.
The panel of judges in the Photography category was comprised of Ed Reinke, The Associated Press, Louisville; Jim Gensheimer, San Jose Mercury News and Dan Farrell, former photographer for the New York Daily News.
Lees will receive his Eclipse Award at the 2007 Eclipse Awards ceremony on Jan. 21, 2008 at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.