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Move over Harry Potter, unicorn princess Penny Simms is here.

Author — and member of the Ladies Legover side-saddle team chasers — Babette Cole has written a new series of children’s books, based at Fetlocks Hall, “a very unusual pony school where extraordinary things happen”.

The series, aimed at children aged from 8-10, follows the life of pony-mad Penny.

“Horses are something I know about so I decided to write the archetypal, magical pony tale,” said Babette, who turned to old diaries and Pony Club annuals for inspiration.

“I am thrilled to bits with the books but [publisher] Bloomsbury made me take out any references to flirtation, drinking or hunting, which was a bit disappointing. They now go team chasing instead.”

The books include a good versus evil theme, with unicorns taking on the devlipeds — bright red, scaly Shetland pony-sized animals.

The first two books, called The Unicorn Princess and The Ghostly Blinkers, came out at the beginning of the month and sold nearly 9,000 copies in the first week.

The books sell for £5.99 and have been voted June’s book of the month by Blue Peter, out of 1m entries.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (27 May, ’10)