Fran, this is a wonderful image!
I prefer the 2nd version, simply because the 1st version appears to have significant amounts of artifacting evident; it's particularly concentrated in the top left-hand corner. I'm certainly not trying to be rude, condescending or derogatory about this....it's just that I've had years of experience dealing with this issue. I upload to 13 microstock photography sites world-wide, and in the early days, I battled with this problem in many of my images. My images were frequently rejected by the inspectors on these sites because of this problem. In recent years, I've learned how to overcome the problem. The better the lens, the better the lighting, the less filtering, the less sharpening, and the less cropping you do to an image, all helps to prevents this issue.
As I said, they are both lovely images. Excellent composition!
Congratulations on your award!
PS I sincerely ask you not to take my comments the wrong way. I can assure you they are meant to be nothing more than constructive.