A teenager who trains on a wooden horse has enjoyed her first taste of racing success.
Olivia Tubb, 13, won a 138cm race at a Pony Club raceday at Cheltenham last month (25 March).
The youngster has never owned a pony but her father Paul built her a wooden horse for her to practise her technique at home.
Olivia makes the four-hour round trip to train at Julie and Patrick Scott’s Apple Tree Stud, a Pony Club Centre in Banbury, once a month and won on their pony Mouse.
“Mouse was so brave, he really tried. I knew that if I kept pushing he would keep going all the way to the line,” she said.
“Ruby Walsh is my favourite jockey and to win at Cheltenham where he has had so much success is a dream come true, I still can’t quite believe it actually happened.”
Her wooden horse is named Troy, after both the Greek legend and the 1979 Derby winner.
“Because Olivia doesn’t have her own pony to practise on, I decided to design and build her one – quite a challenge for someone who has no carpentry skills,” said Mr Tubb.
“Olivia and Troy have climbed the Cheltenham hill and passed the winning post in front of their rivals countless times over the past eighteen months but never dared imagine the dream would turn to reality.”
Olivia, who would like to become a jockey when she is older, completed a 12-week youth training scheme run by the Pony Racing Authority (PRA) at the Banbury centre last year.
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The industry-funded scheme is designed for children who cannot take part in pony racing because of financial or other circumstances.
The aim is to get youngsters fit, skilled and ready to take part in a real pony race.
“We know there are children who have the talent to become jockeys, but need a helping hand to access the opportunities,” said PRA chief executive Clarissa Daly.
“With Olivia having completed the scheme in 2015, and raced three times that year, it was clear that she has the commitment and ability to take her training further.”