Skip to content
Sign up for latest news and events

Explore British Racing’s Directory of Community and Education Activity…

The Directory maps nationwide activities from over 130 organisations that are harnessing racing’s assets to help people develop skills, increase physical activity and create a more diverse and inclusive sport.

Email to add your organisation or retrieve your login details.

12 April 2023

No pony, no problem – aspiring jockeys get Ascot thrill

Not many jockeys can say they have ridden into the winners’ enclosure at Ascot Racecourse, especially if the jockeys in question are 11-years-old and having their first ever ride in a race.

However, this was the case on April 3rd when 101 young jockeys aged 9 to 16 and their ponies descended on Ascot for the first day of the Easter holidays and The Pony Club Area 13 Race Day.

This was a day of two halves. The Pony Racing Authority ran a Taster Day for 50 young people aged from 7 to 15 and their families. The day is for those with an interest in visiting a racecourse but who might not necessarily come from a horse-related background or know anything about pony racing and racing in general. The aim of the day is to show parents and children what is needed to take part in a pony race, as well as having a great time. The children were split into three groups to enjoy the activities. They learnt all about the racing kit for the jockey and pony, and how the sport of pony racing works. Theory turned into practice, when the groups were taken on the equicisers with the Racing to School team, working on fitness and riding technique. The final activity was a tour of the iconic racecourse itself, taking in many aspects that are only seen by jockeys or racecourse and racing staff. The biggest treat was yet to come, as once their work was over, they were given the chance to watch the races in the afternoon.

There were eight pony races, ranging from those jockeys having their first ever ride to those more experienced riders competing towards the end of the day.

The young people have to follow the same procedures and weigh out and saddle their ponies, just like professional jockeys as the races. The full experience of the parade ring and riding out under the stands onto the racecourse was on offer to these riders. Once they have made their way to the start and the starter was happy, they were under starter’s orders and off and running, followed by mounted chaperones, The smaller ponies ran over 4 furlongs and the others competed at six furlongs. Once the race was finished, the jockeys returned to the parade ring, unsaddled and weigh in before the prize giving.

There were 17 ‘Pony Racing Academy Scheme’ children from Appletree Stud, Ghyll Park Equestrian, Greatham Equestrian and Park Lane Stables in attendance. These riders do not own their own pony and had been selected to join the fully-funded Academy Scheme course run at these riding schools on behalf of the Pony Racing Authority. The course is run over 12 sessions and those accepted onto the scheme have to show 100% commitment to attend the first eleven three-hour sessions leading up to their Race Day (Session 12). They learn about rider fitness, care of a racing pony, practising technique on an equiciser and riding in an arena and on the gallops. Over 200 young people aged 11 to 15 have already benefitted from this scheme and realised their dream of riding in a Pony Race. The centres cover the whole country, from Aberdeen in the north, Hampshire in the south, Cornwall in the west to Suffolk in the East.

To find out more please contact  or visit their website

Back to news