Budding young jockeys can once more take to the turf as the 2009 pony racing series begins next month.

The 2009 Charles Owen Pony Racing Series kicks off at Towcester racecourse on Sunday 12 April.

Pony racing is a rapidly growing sport aimed at 11-15 years olds to encourage more youngsters into racing.

Recent pony racing graduates include Rhys Flint, Felix de Giles and Hadden Frost who are all rapidly making a name for themselves in the sport.

Thirteen-time champion jockey A P McCoy said: “There are already some seriously talented jockeys in the weighing room who progressed from pony racing — not least Rhys Flint who is showing a few of us ‘oldies’ how to ride winners!

“The improvement in young jockeys starting out is obvious and pony racing is now a proper grounding for aspiring jockeys in this country.”

Rebecca Morgan, chief executive of the Pony Racing Authority, added: “We are already seeing the results of pony racing. Felix de Giles, our inaugural champion in 2004, rode his first Festival winner last month and there is a great pool of talent that has emerged from pony racing into point-to-pointing.

“It is only a matter of time until many more progress and become professional jockeys. The competence and skill of English riders when they are 16 and able to ride professionally is now far greater than it was before pony racing was introduced and we are now seeing some really talented individuals come through the ranks.”

Races will be run 23 racecoursesacross the country between April and October. And there are over 100 fixtures at point-to-points and racecourses in 2009.

Points will be accumulated at races with the top 15 jockeys and horses qualifiying to compete at the finals — which will take place at Cheltenham racecourse for the first time on Saturday, 17 October.

For more information visit www.pra.gb.com