The final fixture of the Champion Headwear Pony Club Pony Racing series, held at Lingfield Park Racecourse saw sunshine and a special visit from The Pony Club’s Patron, HRH The Princess Royal.
As a great turnout of more than 400 Pony Club Members, supporters and family poured in through the gates ahead of the pony racing action there was the opportunity to visit the British Horseracing Education and Standards Trust (BHEST) and careersinracing to have a go on the equicisors, try on real racing silks, get top tips and find out more about Racing as a sport and a career. Over in the paddock, the National Hunt racehorse Sire de Grugy was in fine form for visitors to admire, before taking to the course for a gallop.
As the day’s pony racing got underway, there was a bumper entry of near 100 Pony Club Members, competing for one of the Champion Headwear race titles at Novice and Open level over four, six or eight furlongs. The special ‘*Area 11 Training Stakes’ race title went to **Centre Member Sophie Manners (14), from London based Pony Club Centre, Park Lane Stables riding Derwent Dream Dancer who also won the tack and turnout for the class.
“The day has been such a great opportunity for our Members to get a feel for what it would be like to be a jockey” said Natalie O’Rourke, Proprietor of Park Lane Stables. “We must thank the Eridge Branch and The Pony Club for the opportunity to meet HRH the Princess Royal – coupled with our winner we have had the best day ever!”
With the occasion also marking the 80th anniversary of the organising Eridge Hunt Branch of The Pony Club, HRH the Princess Royal met current Members from the Branch aged four upwards to find out more about them and their ponies, before kindly cutting into an amazing commemorative chocolate cake to be enjoyed by everyone.
“What an amazing day we had at Lingfield Park Racecourse today for The Pony Club Race Day!” said Joanna Tindall, Eridge Hunt District Commissioner. “A huge thank you to all those who helped us from Lingfield Park and the many others from other Pony Club Branches within Area 11. Everyone made it such a special day and one we will all remember for a long time”.
There was an additional surprise for Joanna, alongside Cherry Michell the former Pony Club Chairman, as they were presented with their Cubitt Awards by HRH the Princess Royal, to honour their individuals commitment of over 20 years voluntary service to The Pony Club.
Before heading home HRH the Princess Royal was able to watch some of the pony racing action before stopping by at the prize giving for Race 5 to present the winners and receive a bouquet from Eridge Hunt Member, Theo Boyle.
“It was wonderful to have HRH the Princess Royal with us for our final pony racing fixture of the year” commented Pip Kirkby, Chief Executive of The Pony Club. “The day was such a great display of what The Pony Club is doing at grassroots level with racing as a sport, as well what our amazing volunteers achieve on our behalf”.
Andrew Perkins, Executive Director of Lingfield Park Racecourse, echoed the success of the day saying “Hosting the annual Eridge Hunt Pony Club pony racing event at Lingfield Park has always been a pleasure and it was great to see the occasion made even more special this year with the attendance of HRH the Princess Royal”.