BHA Update – Equine Influenza


The BHA have today released an update on Equine Influenza in the UK.  Following a decrease in the number of reported outbreaks of Equine Influenza in the United Kingdom and Europe, the BHA Veterinary Committee have agreed to further relax the requirements for all horses on Racecourse Property.  This includes runners from non-Licenced yards (ARO, Hunter Chasers and PRA), non-GB runners (including France and Ireland) and other horses on racecourses (for example ROR).


2017 Finals

The 2017 Charles Owen Series will come to a close on Saturday with the Finals being staged – very aptly – on Future Champions Day at Newmarket.

The children, parents, ponies and support teams have travelled the length and breadth of the country to earn points to compete in the Finals. The quality of fields in the 2 pony races gets better and better each year and this year is no exception.

Charles Owen Series

We are so grateful to the support of the Racecourses throughout the summer who allow us to hold 2 pony races before or after their professional card. We are also thrilled to continue our 10 year partnership with Charles Owen who have sponsored pony racing since it formally started in 2007.

This will be a number of competitor’s last race and they will be graduating to the ‘real thing’. Recent graduates making names for themselves include James Bowen, Harry Cobden, Joshua Bryan, William Cox and George Wood to name but a few. Who will we be the ones to watch: well Saturday’s pony races may give us some clues as to who will be the Future Champions – both human and equine!

York stage fabulous Novice Finals

The Charles Owen Novice Finals were staged at York at the weekend and as always provided 2 very competitive races. Harry Davies on Little Anne won the 138 cm race and Owen Lewis riding Bongo Bay won the 148 cm race. Both were competitively fought and all the riders showed how much they had learnt and improved over the season.

William Derby, Chief Executive of York Racecourse, said the children “rode and conducted themselves with great credit”.


York Racecourse are always very welcoming hosts and made it possible for the PRA to be able to give the families, who support and drive the children around the country, a lovely day out at the races.

The Novice Series goes from strength to strength with 5 qualifiers this season leading up to the finals. All the points count towards the Charles Owen Series and therefore towards the Finals at Newmarket in October.

With only 2 fixtures left, places in the Charles Owen Finals are being hard fought for and parents will be driving as far as Bath and Musselburgh in order to gain much needed points.


PRA Awards celebrate Charles Owen Racecourse Series 2016

Jockeys who competed in this year’s Charles Owen Racecourse Series were treated to an exclusive tour of Dalham Hall Stud, which included seeing four magnificent Darley stallions paraded, as part of the Pony Racing Authority’s Awards day. The riders and their families also viewed three new stallions in their paddocks and visited the covering facilities, and were able to ask staff questions about the stud’s breeding programme, daily regime and aspects of the commercial side to Darley’s global operations.


Following the tour and after a short drive to Newmarket Racecourse, guests arrived for the awards ceremony hosted by PRA Chairman Edward Gillespie, with Derby winning jockey Michael Hills presenting the prizes.  We were also delighted to welcome Richard and Dawn Prince, who sponsor the Rose Bengal Leading Rider Awards, and take a keen interest in the development of young riders at all levels of pony racing.

Sophie Smith, winner Leading Rider award, with Michael Hills
Sophie Smith, winner Leading Rider award, with Michael Hills

Interviewed by Edward Gillespie, Michael described a childhood growing up around horses, with showjumping his main sport and having represented England at the age of thirteen. At just sixteen years old, Michael had his first racing winner two weeks after finishing school and “never looked back”, with horses taking him “all over the world” to achieve a career tally of more than 2000 winners, including the Derby on Shammit in 1996 – which felt “like a footballer scoring the winning goal in the World Cup!”

The winners of the Championships Finals held on 22 October at Cheltenham Racecourse – Sophie Smith on Push the Button in the 138cm & under, and Oakley Brown on White Water in the 148cm & under – were first up to be interviewed. Both jockeys will be riding out over the winter months to gain more experience, and will be back on the tracks in 2017.

Richard Prince, who with his wife Dawn, sponsors the Rose Bengal awards, spoke of the high standards of all the riders and praised their attitude: “Everyone helps everyone, and it is fantastic to see the progress of all the jockeys from beginners at Pony Club race days and point-to-points right through to the Charles Owen series.”

The Rose Bengal Leading Rider awards – which is for the rider with the most points up to the Final – were awarded to Sophie Smith (138cm & under) and James Bowen (148cm & under). As well as a trophy, the winners each received a coat, a new racing saddle and a voucher for a private session with a jockey coach to cover personal fitness, pony fitness, riding technique and race technique.

_dsc9349-copyThe Rose Bengal Scholarship Awards were also announced with Finn Muirhead (138cm & under) and Liam Harrison (148cm & under) having received the most nominations made by the PRA Steward after each fixture – the stewards were looking for riders who have shown the most improvement, listened to what they have been told on previous occasions, been on time, and had a helpful manner.

After a full selection of awards was presented, Edward Gillespie thanked all the riders and their families for making this years Charles Owen Racecourse Series such a success.

Make it a date for 2017

The Charles Owen Racecourse Series Finals will be held at Newmarket Racecourse on Future Champions Day, 14 October 2017.


Winner of 148cm Charles Owen Final at Cheltenham: Oakley Brown (White Water)

Also Winner of 148 cm Conditions’ Final at York: Oakley Brown (White Water)

Winner of 138 cm Final at Cheltenham: Sophie Smith (Push The Button)

Winner of 138 cm Conditions’ Final : Minty Bloss (Nook Class Act)

Rose Bengal Leading Rider – sponsored by Richard and Dawn Prince.

This is for the rider with the most points up to the Final. The winners receive a coat, a cup, a new racing saddle and a a voucher for a private session with a Jockey Coach to cover personal fitness, pony fitness, riding technique and race technique.

2016 148cm Rose Bengal Leading Rider: James Bowen on leading pony Cudlic Verona

2016 138 cm Rose Bengal Leading Rider: Sophie Smith on leading pony Push The Button

Rose Bengal Scholarship – sponsored by Richard and Dawn Prince.

Nominations are made by the PRA Steward after each fixture. This is for the rider who has shown the most improvement, listened to what they have been told on previous occasions, been on time, and particularly if they are helpful to the Steward on the day!

The runners up receive a voucher for a private session with a Jockey Coach to cover personal fitness, pony fitness, riding technique and race technique.

2016 Rose Bengal 148 cm Scholarship  Winner – Liam Harrison

The winner receives a cup, a coat, a new racing saddle and a voucher for a private session with a Jockey Coach to cover fitness, pony fitness, riding technique and race technique.

Runners Up:           Noah Brazg-Carrell

Nia Kerslake

William Humphrey

Albi Tufnell

Runers up receive a voucher for a private session with a Jockey coach

 2016 Rose Bengal 138 cm Scholarship Winner – Finn Muirhead

The winner receives a cup, a coat, a new racing saddle and a voucher for a private session with a Jockey Coach to cover fitness, pony fitness, riding technique and race technique.

Runners Up:           Nick Barratt-Atkin

Poppy Scott

Minty Bloss

Runers up receive a voucher for a private session with a Jockey coach

CareersinRacing Best Turned Out: winners receive a smart duffle bag from Careers in Racing

138 cm             Tyler Heard

148 cm             Hamish Clark

The Most Widely Travelled:

Camilla Broster – received a voucher for a private session with a Jockey Coach

 Northern Awards

These were presented at Kelso earlier in October

  • Leading 138cm Combination: Charlie Todd and Stretcholt Hermes
  • Leading 148 cm combination : Nick Barratt Atkin and Doppio Movimento.
  • Most improved 138 cm combination: Camilla Broster and Fair N Square
  • Most improved 148 cm combination:  Archie Frank and Judge Fox

Wooden horse takes young jockey from Chandlers Ford to Cheltenham to win first pony race

Olivia has been able to take part in racing through an innovative training scheme run and funded by the Pony Racing Authority (PRA), as chief executive Clarissa Daly explained:  “We know there are children who have the talent to become jockeys, but need a helping hand to access the opportunities. Our 12-week youth training scheme, funded by the industry, is designed for children who cannot take part in pony racing because of financial or other circumstances. The scheme aims to get the children fit, skilled and ready to take part in a proper pony race. With Olivia having completed the scheme in 2015, and raced three times that year, it was clear that she has the commitment and ability to take her training further.”

As part of the PRA’s graduate scheme, Olivia has been travelling from her home in Hampshire to Banbury in north Oxfordshire every month for training with Julie and Patrick Scott at Apple Tree Stud, a Pony Club Centre.

According to Olivia, riding the Scotts’ pony Mouse to win at Cheltenham was a dream come true: “Mouse was so brave, he really tried. I knew that if I kept pushing he would keep going all the way to the line. Ruby Walsh is my favourite jockey and to win at Cheltenham where he has had so much success is a dream come true, I still can’t quite believe it actually happened!”

Olivia rides Mouse through the Cheltenham arch with her family to take top spot in the winners enclosure
Olivia rides Mouse through the Cheltenham arch with her family to take top spot in the winners enclosure

Olivia has the enthusiastic support of her family as her father Paul explained: “Because Olivia doesn’t have her own pony to practise on, I decided to design and build her one – quite a challenge for someone who has no carpentry skills! Olivia’s fitness training and work on her riding technique takes place on a wooden horse, named Troy after the legend of the Trojan horse – and also the 1979 Derby winner! Olivia and Troy have climbed the Cheltenham hill and passed the winning post in front of their rivals countless times over the past eighteen months but never dared imagine the dream would turn to reality!”

Praising the training scheme, he said: “Julie and Patrick Scott have been absolutely fantastic, encouraging all the young jockeys and sharing their knowledge with enormous enthusiasm. We’ve clocked up some miles making the two hour drive each way but it’s been absolutely worth it to see Olivia riding so well.”

Clarissa said: “It’s through the generous sponsorship of broadcast services company RaceTech that we’re able to offer these monthly gallops sessions and a chance for our YTS jockeys to race again. We want to keep the enthusiasm and desire going in these riders who have the talent to succeed, and give them a leg up into the horseracing industry.”

For now Olivia is back to riding Troy but hopes to ride in more pony races in the future. Her father Paul said: “Olivia’s only thirteen at the moment but would like to be a jockey when she’s older. She knows she’ll need a bit of luck and for doors to open to achieve her goal, but with Olivia’s levels of dedication and determination she’ll be well placed to grab any opportunity with both hands!”

Pony racing showcases talent with launch of 2016 Charles Owen Racecourse Series

The crème de la crème of pony racing will be competing for top spot when the first fixture in the Charles Owen Racecourse Series takes place at Kempton Racecourse on 26 March 2016.

Sponsored by global brand Charles Owen since 2005, the Racecourse Series is the showcase for pony racing talent.  Ponies and riders have to be qualified to compete, and combinations accumulating the most points across the series are eligible to race at the Charles Owen Racecourse Series Finals held on Cheltenham Racecourse on 22 October 2016.

Clarissa Daly, chief executive of the sports governing body the Pony Racing Authority (PRA), said: “The Charles Owen Racecourse Series is as close as it gets to ‘the real thing’, attracting young jockeys who have come through a number of different routes, such as point-to-point pony racing and Pony Club race days, as well as having completed specialist training to ensure they are ready, fit and safe to ride at this elite level.”

“As far as possible, we try to mirror the professional racing experience so that these young riders have a real insight and understanding into the way the professional sport operates. As well as giving them the thrill of a lifetime out on the racecourse, we aim to give riders a strong platform for going into the racing industry, perhaps as an apprentice jockey or into one of the many career paths that racing offers.”

Finals October 2015 at Aintree Racecourse
148cm Finals October 2015 at Aintree Racecourse
Push The Button (Sophie Smith) wins the 138cm & under, Aintree October 2015
Push The Button ridden by Sophie Smith, winner 138cm Finals 2015 at Aintree

Widening participation in pony racing is top priority, as Clarissa explained: “To encourage children onto the Racecourse Series, we are adding three Conditions races which are open to children or ponies who have not been placed (1st – 4th) in a Charles Owen Final in the last two years. This leads up to a Conditions’ Finals at York Racecourse on 4 September. It was so popular when we introduced the format last year – to encourage children to make the step up from point-to-point pony racing – that we’re doing it again!”

Roy Burek, managing director for Charles Owen, said: “We are proud to be sponsoring the Racecourse Series – the top flight of pony racing in Britain – for the eleventh year running. It’s fantastic to see the dedication and passion in these young riders, and the partnership they create with their ponies, to perform at this level. We’re looking forward to an exciting season building up to a highly-competitive final at Cheltenham in October.”

Clarissa Daly added: “Charles Owen’s investment in the sport has been significant and without their steadfast commitment for more than ten years, many of the opportunities today through pony racing would simply not be possible.”

York Prizegiving
Presentation, Conditions Final 2015 at York Racecourse


Charles Owen, sponsors Racecourse Series 2016

2016 Charles Owen Racecourse Series fixtures: 


26 March                     Kempton

30 March                     Exeter

17 April                        Wincanton

13 May                        Aintree

14 May                        Newmarket

22 May                        Nottingham

30 May                        Huntingdon

2 June                         Ffos Las

5 June                         Goodwood

3 July                          Market Rasen

9 July                          Ascot

24 July                        Uttoxeter

25 July                        Newton Abbot

28 July                         Stratford

4 August                      Great Yarmouth

7 August                      Chelmsford

12 August                    Newbury

18 August                    Stratford

19 August                    Bangor On Dee

27 August                    Beverley

29 August                    Chepstow

4 September               York – CONDITIONS FINALS

4 September               Fontwell

11 September             Bath

25 September             Musselburgh

2 October                    Kelso

22 October                  Cheltenham – FINALS

 Charles Owen Conditions Series

Three Conditions Series races will be held, leading to a Conditions Finals on 4 September at York

13 May            Aintree 

24 July            Uttoxeter

18 August       Stratford

 Charles Owen Finals

The culmination of the Racecourse Series is the Finals held at Cheltenham on 22 October. After racing, the PRA hosts lunch for everyone and sponsors Charles Owen provide a helmet for each finalist.

About Charles Owen

British manufacturer and global brand Charles Owen, best known for its range of riding helmets and body protectors, has been the main sponsor for the Racecourse Series since 2005.

The Charles Owen Finals

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.

138cm Final

  1. Sophie Smith and Push the Button
  2. Tamby Welch and Churchill
  3. Tyler Heard and The Jobs Not Straight

148cm Final

  1. AJ O’Neill and Miss Wonderful
  2. Joshua Bryan and Follow the Star
  3. 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.

Racecourse Series Conditions Final, York

The Conditions Series was introduced in 2015 as a way to introduce new jockeys to the Racecourse Series and is only open to Ponies and Riders who have not been placed (1st-4th) in the Racecourse Charles Owen Final in the last two years.

York Racecourse hosted a fantastic day for the children and parents which also included a Raceday experience for local Pony Club Members. Combinations came from across the country, traveling from as far as Devon with a wide variety of backgrounds and experience in the sport, with some in their first year of the Racecourse Series.

One of those new to the series this year was winner of the 138cm Pony Race Minty Bloss with her pony Nook Class Act with the 148cm Pony Race won by Rachel Sharpe and Mr Marshall.


The Best Turned Out, sponsored by Careers In Racing was won by Minty in the 138cm and Thomasina Eyston with her pony Springs in the 148cm.

The Charles Owen Racecourse Series continues forward as Ponies and Riders try to secure more points for the Charles Owen Racecourse Series Final held by Aintree Racecourse at the end of October.