Interview with Edward Gillespie as he retires from 10 years of Chairman of the Pony Racing Authority

Edward alongside PRA Jockey (now Graduate) Poppy Scott at the PRA Awards in 2018

What are the biggest changes you have seen during your chairmanship?

“Primarily, the PRA is the regulatory body that looks after what you might call ‘the small print’ that allows the widest possible participation in the sport of Pony Racing. Thanks to the immense work of those who came before me, we have needed to make remarkably few changes. Instead, we have been able to drive the sport forward, developing activities at all three levels of competition and broadening the appeal through Academies and Taster Days. Keeping the sport going through periods of equine flu and the pandemic has been a terrific achievement and a credit to both the Executive and to the flexibility and commitment of riders and supporters. 

What are the main challenges you see facing pony racing?

Keeping Racecourses ‘onside’ for the Dragon (TV & Film) Series will continue to be a challenge. Racecourses are incredibly generous with their facilities and supply of Officials and Medics. We need to reward that by delivering attractive races in terms of quality and quantity of runners. That’s why our new handicapping initiative was introduced; a reminder that racing over many centuries has relied on that means of ‘levelling up’. 

Tremendous progress is being made with establishing Academies, particularly since the PRA was asked by the Racing Foundation to lead the ‘Pathway into Horse Racing through Pony Racing Project’ with other organisations focussed on attracting and retaining young people into Racing. I am really excited for the future with where many of these are located, in what have been ‘cold spots’ for the sport. In every case, we depend on the enthusiasm of a few individuals who see the benefits of what we are offering. Our aim is to help Racing truly reflect the nation – how it looks, talks and feels. That requires recruitment from a wide range of communities for jockeys, coaches and administrators.

What was your favourite moment during your Chairmanship?

There have been so many for me over the past ten years, on and off the track. Seeing Tom Marquand, who happens to come from the village where I live, and Hollie Doyle achieve national recognition has been wonderful. PRA Graduates now dominate Jump Racing and I celebrate every big win they achieve. Following Benoit de la Sayette’s journey right from the beginning to seeing him carve through the field in the Victoria Cup at Ascot was very special. He has shown that life is seldom straightforward and succeeding in sport brings with it immense challenges that can be overcome by having the right support group. 

What’s next?

I am delighted Simon Claisse will be taking over from me as Chair. Simon and I formed a fun partnership as Chief Exec and Clerk of the Course at Cheltenham for a decade and I know he will bring expertise, energy and fresh ideas. We have a fantastic Board and Excecutive. I wish them all possible success. 

For me, my other role which can continue for a few years, is as Lord-Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, The Queen’s representative in the county. That takes me racing occasionally and brings me into contact with many people who share my passion for horses. 

PRA Announces Simon Claisse as Chairman

The Pony Racing Authority (PRA) is delighted to announce Simon Claisse, previously Chairman of the Point-to-Point Authority and former Head of Racing for the Jockey Club South West Courses and Clerk of the Course at Cheltenham Racecourse, will take over as Chairman from 1st July 2022 from Edward Gillespie who has held the position since 2013. 

 Simon has been involved in pony racing since it was introduced to this country in 2004 both in his role at Cheltenham Racecourse and in a personal capacity.

 Commenting on the appointment, Edward said, “I am thrilled that Simon has agreed to take on this vital role within an area of the industry that is so important to the future of the sport.

 The knowledge and experience that Simon brings to this role will help take the PRA and pony racing to the next level.

 I have really enjoyed being involved with the PRA helping drive it forward to reach new communities.  So much has been achieved over the past decade, with the support of everyone across Racing. We have over 180 graduates riding either under Rules or in Point-to-Points with many of these coming from households with no equine or racing knowledge. All the very best to Simon, the Board and the Executive for developing the sport further. There is so much to look forward to”.


Simon commented: “I have been an advocate of pony racing since its inception, it was hugely satisfying to host pony racing and to stage the first PRA Graduates race at Cheltenham. Having been involved with a family member who competed at all levels, the sport clearly provides a huge amount of fun for its participants, but equally invaluable experience demonstrated by the competency levels of those aspiring to progress further within horseracing.  I am looking forward to working with the Executive and the Board at such an exciting time for pony racing.  I am particularly looking forward to helping with the delivery of the Pathway into Racing through Pony Racing. This will take pony racing to new audiences with the aim of making pony racing accessible to everyone.”

Read the full press release here.

The Dragon (TV & Film) Studios PRA Summer Racecourse Series has started!

The winners of the first races in the 2022 Series run at Warwick Racecourse were Freddie Fletcher riding Veno Star in the 138 race and Megan Ridsdale riding Mallow Royale in the 148 race.

Two good and competitive races run to start the Dragon (TV & Film) plenty of promise shown from both riders and ponies. Lots to look forward to throughout the season.

Best Turned Out Awards, sponsored by Howdens, went to Dillan’s Girl (138) and Roy Boy Green (148)

The Rose Bengal Nominees, chosen by the Jockey Coach and Steward on the day were:

Jack Dace (138)

Barnaby Adler (148)

The Jockey with the most nominations at each height category over the season will be crowned the Rose Bengal Award winner.

View the two races run.

2022 Dragon (TV & Film) Studios Racecourse Series

 

  • 2nd May – Warwick Racecourse. 138cm – 6f. 148cm – 1m
  • 22nd May – Nottingham Racecourse. 138cm – 6f. 148cm – 1m 2f
  • 5th June – Goodwood Racecourse. 138cm – 6f. 148cm – 6f
  • 2nd July – Carlisle Racecourse. 138cm – 6f. 148cm – 1m
  • 3rd July – Market Rasen Racecourse. 138cm – 7f. 148cm – 1m 2f
  • 9th July – Ascot Racecourse. 138cm – 6f. 148cm – 1m
  • 19th July – Musselburgh Racecourse. 138cm – 7f. 148cm – 1m
  • 24th July – Uttoxeter Racecourse. 138cm – 7f. 148cm – 1m
  • 28th July – Stratford-upon-Avon Racecourse. 138cm – 7f. 148cm – 1m1f
  • 4th August – Yarmouth Racecourse. 138cm – 6f. 148cm – 8f
  • 7th August – Haydock Racecourse. 138cm – 5f. 148cm – 1m2f
  • 12th August – Wolverhampton Racecourse. 138cm – 6f. 148cm – 1m2f
  • 15th August – Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse. 138cm – 7f. 148cm – 1m 2f
  • 19th August – Newbury Racecourse. 138cm – 6f. 148cm – 1m
  • 29th August – Southwell Racecourse. 138cm – 7f. 148cm – 1m
  • 4th September – York Racecourse. 2 x 148cm races over 7f and 1m2f
  • 10th September – Chelmsford Racecoures. 138cm – 6f. 148cm – 7f
  • 25th September – Ffos Las Racecourse. 138cm – 1m. 148cm – 1m2f
  • 8th October – Chepstow Racecourse. 138cm – 1m2f. 148cm – 1m3f
  • 22nd October – Cheltenham Racecourse. 138cm – 7f. 148cm – 1m1f

The above is subject to BHA approval. 

It’s happening! Pony Racing in Scotland and the North.

There is so much to look forward to in Scotland and the North on the Pony Racing front. Any type of pony under 148cm can take part!

Taster Days
Find out what the sport is all about and watch children take part on Sunday 13th February at Friars Haugh. This day is unmounted….nothing needed. Free to attend but please book in advance.

Point-to-Point Pony Racing
7 fixtures starting on 13th February through to 14th May in the Northern Area alone including Novice Races as well as Opens.
Nb – Open to PRA members only who have qualified to race (via a Training Day, Hunting or PC Rallies). If you are entering to race at Berwickshire Point-to-Point on Sunday 13th you MUST have your pony registered no later than midday on Friday 4th February.

Training Days
Days where children ride and can qualify to take part in PRA and/or PC Races on a PRA/PC Training Day OR simply just try the sport out and enhance their skills. Improve fitness and balance too and parents, enjoy a handy Q&A session and demos!
PLEASE BOOK ASAP – SPACES ARE LIMITED! We will be at the Lindores Equestrian, Cupar on 19th February and the Ian Stark Equestrian Centre, Selkirk on the 20th February. It is £30 per pony/rider combination.

Pony Club Pony Race Day
At Kelso on 5th June. Pony Club Pony Race Days are open to PC members only and run under PC Rules. You can use a PRA/PC Training Day to find out more and to qualify to race in a Pony Club Pony Race Day. You can also qualify via PC Rallies.

Congratulations Grace!

Grace Knowles, a PRA Graduate, won her first P2P race on Sunday, First ride first win ! 

Grace started out on ‘Taz ‘the Ginger Ninja, not an easy pony to ride . Taz had quite a few issues which Grace worked hard to overcome with him and a top tip from Nikki Sheppard made a huge difference . He’s a fab little pony now ,still tricky at times but could give a good little jockey a start into pony racing . She had to make do with him because a racing pony was out of our budget . They didn’t ever have a win but as Grace often quotes ‘he was never last either and he was good at winning best turned out ‘!!!

We then moved on to the wonderful Captain Hurricane. Due to covid he had to race in Open Races even though he’s a novice pony.  Graces thoughts were that it would just give her experience for racing in general, good plan as they had a false start on Sunday! She had 5 great rides on him last season and learnt so much ,she was sadly too old for the racecourse series.

As a mother I was so worried the when we arrived at Caradoc for the training day with a pony that wasn’t used to racing ,not knowing what the form was, and even more terrified at her first Pony race at Maisemore but the kindness and help offered by so many brilliant people, from the PRA , PC and Friends made is easy.

After A levels she decided to take a gap year at Fergal OBbriens and try to gain knowledge about race riding and the whole industry.He first P2P ride was on Stacks Mountain a lovely 9yr old horse that came over from Cheltenham Gold Cup winning trainer Henry de Bromheads in August last year he is owned and trained by Fergal O’Brien .


Grace also won the £500 Dubarry voucher for best rider performance!

Point-to-Point Pony Racing Update. 20.1.22

The “Careers in Racing” Planner will be out shortly but to see what’s on from now until the end of February please click here. We also have the At a Glance , which shows you the spread of races throughout the season and where all the different types are going to be run. The five race types are:

-Maiden Race

-Novice Rider Race

-Intermediate Race

-Open Race

-Conditions Race

By clicking here you can see the conditions for each of them which when you enter you must be able to meet.

We have sadly lost the following fixtures over the past week:

-Vine & Craven (Barbury Castle)

-The United Pack (Brampton Bryan)

 However, we still have a good number and spread of 51 fixtures which you can see by clicking here.

ENTRIES CLOSING:

CAMBRIDGESHIRE WITH ENFIELD CHACESUNDAY, 23RD JANUARY at 8pm

-138cms & under OPEN Race

-148cms & under OPEN Race

ALL entries MUST be done online and late entries won’t be accepted. 
The safety factor for both is 10 and one race may divide if sufficient entries are received. 
Should a ballot need to be carried priority given in the following order to:
1) First time Riders
2) Those riders who have had the least number of runs
3) Those closest to the venue as per their PRA membership registered post code 
up to a maximum of 10 with three reserves being advertised following the deadline

Please remember all the paperwork relevant to the PRA member and the pony MUST be registered and approved by 12 noon on Friday, 21st January.

We’d love to see / be able to share your memories of your days racing so please send your photos to Lucy Felton via WhatsApp on 07771 518258.

Heythrop PtP Pony Races – Sunday 23rd January 2022

Entries close SUNDAY, 16TH JANUARY at 8pm. 

Entries received as of 13.1.21:

138cms & under OPEN Race – 13 entries
148cms & under OPEN Race – 8 entries

Please note, the race that receives the most entries will be divided as we have permission to run 3 Pony Races on the day. 

Should a ballot be required at this fixture (if more than 10 entries per race are received), which in this instance is very likely, those CLOSEST to the venue as per their PRA membership registered post code will be given PRIORITY up to a maximum of 10 entries with three reserves being advertised following the deadline.

FOLLOWING THIS FIXTURE, for the remainder of the season, should a ballot be required, priority with be given in the following order:

1) First time Riders
2) Those riders who have had the least number of runs
3) Those closest to the venue as per their PRA membership registered post code.

Each race allows up to a maximum of 10 entries with three reserves being advertised following the deadline.

The CAMBRIDGESHIRE AND ENFIELD CHACE fixture on Saturday 29th January is also open for entries as of today. 

Should there be too many entries, the race that receives the most entries will be divided and the balloting procedures will be as stated above.

Click here for the confirmed 2022 Point-to-Point Pony Racing Fixture List. 

You can also view the online version of the Point-to-Point Pony Racing Planner, covering the first 7 fixtures from 23rd January to 27th February including the dates entries for fixtures open.  The Planner for the rest of the season is in print and will be sent out later in the month. 

Any questions, you can get in touch here.

2022 Membership and Registering your Pony

-Please do not try to register ANY pony until you have completed your child/Jockey’s membership
-Please make sure your pony has completed the criteria for qualification BEFORE you try to register it. ie Training Day to be completed, not just booked.  For further details, see the PRA Regulations
-Qualifications MAY NOT be carried over from last season.
-Pony Registrations must be made by noon on Friday for approval. An email is sent to your inbox when the Chief PRA Steward approves the pony’s registration.  If approved, you will be able to enter races closing that Sunday. Register early to avoid disappointment. 
-When registering, you will be asked to upload photos of your pony’s passport. Please have this on hand and check the size of the photo’s you are uploading.
-Be aware that Annual JMB Measurements expired on the 31st December. You will need to remeasure your pony now for a valid 2022 season JMB number and you should book this directly with the JMB.
-If you wish to add a second pony for your Jockey to ride this season, please go to the pony’s registration page on your account and add the child/Jockey there. The same goes for adding a second Jockey to ride the same pony as another Jockey. 
On both occasions, please inform the Chief PRA Steward immediately by email (caroline@ponyracingauthority.co.uk) so they can check the qualification and pony details, and approve the addition.
-If you are registering a pony which is already on the PRA database, please be sure to enter the name correctly and as given on the passport.
(Using the official Passport name and not a stable name applies to all ponies!).
-If you are hoping to enter a race of a weekend you MUST make sure you have registered your pony on the PRA website, uploading all required documents and correct information including contact details for any Master or DC required to approve the qualification no later than 12, midday on the Friday before.  Please do not leave it to the last minute. 

Uploading Passport Pages?

Please don’t try to upload a PDF – it won’t work. Photos of passport pages must be JPEGs or PNGs and the total maximum size for all photos is 4 MB.  The easiest way to register your pony is often via a phone or tablet.  When uploading your passport’s front page, ID pages and Vaccination Records, simply click on the photo before you upload and change the ‘Actual Size’ of the photo to ‘Large Size’.