Pony races teach youngsters to look after their horses and each other

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Speed ran a distant second to safety at the first National Pony Racing Series held at Ascot Racecourse recently.

Lindy Maurice from Thoroughbred Industry Careers said she prioritised balance and control in choosing the riders who progressed from trial to race stage in the series, which is being held in collaboration with Pony Club Australia.

“It’s about mateship with your ponies and each other, looking after your ponies and each other,” she told the West Australian group before they moved out onto the course.

The series gives young riders the chance to ride on the lush turf of famous racecourses across Australia, with the finals to be held at Randwick in Sydney during the 2024 autumn racing carnival.

WA will be represented by Rubie Gilberd and Cade Smith, who won the races at Ascot with their ponies Rosie and Rusty.

Cade Smith and Rusty lead the large pony race. Credit: Western Racepix. Above: Lindy Maurice and the pony racing team at Ascot. Credit: Susan de Ruyter

“This series will help create awareness of career opportunities in the thoroughbred industry and help build relationships between the equestrian and thoroughbred communities,” Lindy said.

“Many pony racing riders in Europe have had very successful careers in the thoroughbred industry worldwide.

“It also helps the riders become educated about thoroughbred welfare and life after racing.”

As they grow and move on from their ponies, the initiative gives young riders greater awareness of Off the Track thoroughbreds and standardbreds and their adaptability to post-racing activities from show jumping and eventing to endurance or relaxed bush rides.

Some of the youngsters competing at Ascot were the sons and daughters of WA jockeys and trainers but others were getting their first glimpse of a career with horses.

Rubie Gilberd and Rosie won the small pony race. Credit: Western Racepix

Lindy said the pony racers were the future of Australian racing, not only as jockeys and trainers but also looking after horses in jobs such as stablehands, strappers, farriers or vets.

“The quality of the ponies and riders show the future of racing is very healthy in Western Australia,” Lindy said.

In WA, racing supports more than 10,000 jobs and involves around 25,000 people as participants, employees and volunteers.

The series runs across Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia for riders aged nine to 15, wearing the sponsored silks of some of the biggest names in racing. Find out more here.

Susan de Ruyter