With the Charles Owen series having culminated in the finals at Aintree in October, pony racers are now looking ahead to the new point to point pony racing season which starts on February 5 at Black Forest Lodge near Exeter.

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Ponies running in the Point to point series can qualify for the Charles Owen racecourse series and, following the high profile victories of pony racing graduates Harry Derham and Tom Bellamy at Cheltenham last week, let’s hope that some of the local NH courses start backing the sport. At present, the nearest course for D and C riders is Chepstow and apart from that, the average travelling time to a course is between three and five hours.

This season Pippa Glanville managed to qualify Petite Pois, owned by Alan Walter and her mother, Lee Glanville, for the national finals.

It was hard work qualifying - only the top four ponies home earn points - but the pair were in the frame at Stratford, 3rd, Sandown, 2nd and Ffos Las 1st. The pony also raced at Kempton, which takes place on the all weather. Petite Pois didnt really run as well as expected but connections found out afterwards that she hated the all weather and hadn’t liked it the last time she ran there. She was fifth nonetheless and it was good experience.

The penultimate run was at Chepstow, where hopes were high as ‘Penny’ had won there last year with George Shaw. However, she was kicked badly at the start and ran no sort of a race and it was thought that she may not even make the finals, which would have been disappointing, given the hard work it took to keep her fit and race ready all summer.

However a visit to the racecourse vet proved encouraging and, as she seemed fine a few days afterwards, it was full steam ahead for the finals.

Pippa said: “After an overnight stay at Haydock, we were off to Aintree and one look at the racecard showed what a tough race it would be. Normally you meet one or two of the top ponies but this time it was all of them at once! We knew it was short of Penny’s trip at 1m1f, but had fingers crossed.”

It was pretty awe-inspiring leading up around the paddock and all the ponies were wound up going to the start.

However, they were off first time and coming round the final corner Petite Pois was poised. She was third, pushing for second with Hope (Alex French), when Billie Jean (Ollie Sangster) came with a late run to pinch second in a close finish, Miss Wonderful having won by a comfortable four lengths under a great ride from Ned Curtis.

Once the presentations were made, by Tony Mccoy and Ruby Walsh, and the ponies were settled it was time to enjoy and meal and presentations courtesy of Charles Owen in the Corbiere Suite which looked out over the course. It was a great day and would have been even better if Hannah Welch had been able to be there, Her pony, which won the final last year, was sadly kicked and put out of action at Goodwood. Roll on next year!

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