Three aspiring young jockeys will experience life in a top racing yard as a reward for their commitment to the 2009 Charles Owen Pony Racing Series.

The Pony Racing Authority (PRA) has recently secured placements with top trainers Sir Mark Prescott, Michael Bell and Philip Hobbs for teenagers George Crate, Alex French and Rachel Leyson.

The placements are part of the Rose Bengal leading rider and scholarship awards, which were run for the first time last year. They are currently being organised for the Easter holidays and will last a week.

George Crate and Alex French won the leading rider awards for accumulating the most points in the 2009 series, in 138cm and 148cm pony races respectively.

The scholarship is awarded to a rider in each series who showed commitment and improvement.

Jessica Benfield won the 138cm and Rachel Leyshon the 148cm. Unfortunately, Jessica has broken her knee cap so is unable to take up a placement with Nigel Twiston-Davies.

George Crate, 13, will be going to Sir Mark’s Newmarket yard.

His father Peter told H&H: “George is delighted. It’s absolutely brilliant. He’s still quite young, but he wants to be a jockey and we’re very proud of him.”

Alex French will go to H&H columnist Michael Bell in Newmarket and Rachel Leyshon to Philip Hobbs in Somerset.

“I’m looking forward to learning some good tips,” she said.

Mr Hobbs, who employs former pony racing champion Rhys Flint, added: “Pony racing works very well — it is much more professional and helps them progress in the industry.”

PRA chief executive Rebecca Morgan said: “For riders to gain experience at yards of such stature is a great opportunity.”

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (18 February, ’10)