Young wannabe jockeys are to get a leg-up into the industry, thanks to a new scheme by the British Racing School (BRS).
If you’re aged between 11 and 15 and would love to take part in pony racing, but don’t have a pony of your own, then this is your change to learn to race ride – for free.
The BRS pony racing academy will start at the end of June, when three lucky children will attend the school every Saturday for 12 weeks. The young apprentices will be taught on racing ponies, which the academy has brought for the scheme. They will also get to use the racehorse simulators and watch videos of pony races for tips on how it's done.
“Pony racing is a fantastic initiative which provides the breeding ground for the stars of the future and we are already seeing some great jockeys coming through,” said Gemma Waterhouse from the BRS. “Until now the one drawback was that you needed to own your own pony to take part. But thanks to some generous donors, the BRS can now offer those who are unable to own their own pony, an opportunity to take part for free.”
As well as learning to ride like a jockey, the young apprentices will be taught the rules of racing and how to care for a pony. It is hoped that at the end of the 12 weeks they will able to take part in a one of the many pony races around the country.
“We are really excited about the pony racing academy as it will enable us to open up the sport to more young people,” Gemma added.
Pony racing allows 9-15 year olds to race their ponies at point to points and on racecourses all around the UK. It was formally introduced to Britain in 2004 with the Charles Owen Pony Racing Series and is said to be the fastest growing equestrian sport in the country.
As well as a lot of fun it is hoped that pony racing will encourage more young people to consider a career as a jockey. Since its inception 99 riders have graduated from pony racing and are now jockeys, and many others work within the horseracing industry.
Ruby Walsh is one of the many supporters of the sport. "The pony racing series is a great idea as it gets kids interested in becoming jockeys and the more interest you can generate the better chance you have of producing good jockeys," he said.
If you are interested in applying for a place on the academy you need to be between 11 and 15 years old, already be able to walk, trot and canter unaided, and be physically fit. Email email@example.com for an application form.