It may seem a long time ago when Tom Marquand was crowned Champion Apprentice at the end of the Flat Racing Season, but now the Pony Racing Graduate is in line for another award after making the final three for BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year.
The 17-year-old’s achievements were recognised by the wider sporting world last month when he was nominated alongside nine other athletes from a wide range of sports and there was further reason to celebrate on Thursday evening when he joined para-swimmer Tully Kearney and gymnast Ellie Downie in the final trio announced live on CBBC’s Blue Peter on Thursday.
“It’s amazing to think that just two years ago I was still firing myself around Point-to- Point tracks on racing ponies with a dream of making a career as a jockey.
Reflecting back on the time I spent pony racing it has proved to be an essential part of my preparation to come to the stage where I am in a position to be considered towards such a prestigious award. I can’t be thank everyone enough for helping and supporting me from the earlier years up to this point in time.”
Since the end of March 2015 the Charles Owen Racecourse Series has featured on many racecourses around the country, with jockeys aiming to secure as many points as possible to qualify for the prestigious finals, this year kindly hosted by Aintree Racecourse.
Both Finals were tightly contested races with the top ponies battling out for both race wins and also points towards the Leading Pony title. After 8 wins from 8 races, Sophie Smith was one of the leading favourites to claim the 138cm title with her pony Push The Button, but sharing the top in the Leading Pony table was Tyler Heard with the Jobs Not Straight.
The 148cm race was also going to be a memorable race for many of the jockeys before they graduated from Pony Racing. James Bowen with Cudlic Verona went into the race as winners of the Leading Pony Title and as partnership that have not finished outside the top two in qualifying races. But there was going to be tough competition from Joshua Bryan (Follow the Star), Conditions Final winner Rachel Sharpe (Mr Marshall) and AJ O’Neill who although only had four runs to his name, included 3 wins.
- Sophie Smith and Push the Button
- Tamby Welch and Churchill
- Tyler Heard and The Jobs Not Straight
- AJ O’Neill and Miss Wonderful
- Joshua Bryan and Follow the Star
- James Bowen and Cudlic Verona
Thank you to all those who took part in the series this year and we look forward to seeing more new faces on the Racecourse Series next year.