Even the darkest of moods can be remedied with the sight of the Shetland Pony Grand National. Pint-sized ponies thundering over pint-sized fences with equally pint-sized jockeys — “all good things come in small packages” has never rung so true.
Whether it’s at Royal Windsor or under the bright lights at Olympia, we can’t help feeling a pang of resentment that our legs aren’t just a little bit shorter (and we were just a few stone lighter), so that we could live out our racing fantasy… Albeit in miniature format.
Don’t miss tomorrow’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine (1 June 2017), where we celebrate the ‘mini marvels’ of the horseworld, from the tiny eventers making their mark on the circuit, to the unusual ways to keep little ponies fit when you’re too big to ride them.
The Shetland Pony Grand National in pictures
Standing at a maximum of 42 inches, there's not a huge amount of space between a Shetland's tummy and the turf
The Shetland Pony Grand National takes places at the CLA Game Fair at Blenheim Palace in 2014
They may be small, but the crowds go wild for the Shetland Pony Grand National, pictured here at the Liverpool International Horse Show in 2016
Shetlands may be small, but don't underestimate their speed (or the determination of their jockeys)
Jockeys are aged between 8 and 13 years old and have to be under five foot in height
Some of the country's top jockeys started their racing career on Shetlands — including Sam and Willy Twiston-Davies and Jim Crowley. Next month Frankie Dettori's son Rocco will be in action in the Shetland Pony Grand National at the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art at Palace House, Newmarket
Each year the Shetland Pony Grand National raises money for a nominated charity. This year is in aid of the Bob Champion Cancer Trust
Riding a Shetland on its own and racing alongside others are very different experiences, and so participants attend a training day to get them up to scratch
Throughout the year, ponies and children take part in a series of qualifiers, which culminates in the Shetland Pony Grand National at Olympia in December