The Pony Club is to hold an inaugural pony racing day, with an entire card of six races, on 4 April at Milbourne St Andrew, Dorset.
The day, run by the South Dorset hunt branch, precedes a summer series of around a dozen fixtures at licensed racecourses, organised by the racing industry in association with the Pony Club. Pony racing is also underway this spring at point-to-points.
The card will be divided into races for ponies of 138cm (13.2hh) and under and 148cm (14.2hh) and under, with open, novice and lightweight divisions.
Riders’ permitted weights at the meeting have been raised from last year’s upper limits of 8st 7lb in the 138cm races and 9st 5lb in the 148cm races to 9st and 9st 10lb respectively — which is near the maximum of 10st allowed in flat races run under Rules. Distances are five and six furlongs. Riders must be aged 11-15.
However, rules for the UK pony racing summer series have yet to be finalised.
Joey Newton, discipline chairman at the Pony Club, told delegates at the annual Pony Club conference last week that they would be “more in line with the rules of racing”.
Newton added to Horse & Hound: “Last year, rules regarding tack were very much based on what’s used for mounted games. This year, they’ll be based more on racing equipment.”
Qualification criteria for the summer series has yet to be finalised, but is likely to be through the Pony Club; by being placed in a pony race at a point-to-point this spring, or by working at a racing yard. The summer series will culminate in a final at Aintree racecourse on 23 October.