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Friday, October 5, 2012

The Mini Grand National: Take Two, They’re Small…

Those of us in the horse racing game have always said the best way to increase interest is to get more children involved riding the noble steeds.  The Plumpton races in England have figured it out hosting flat and steeplechase races for little kids on even littler Shetland ponies.  Being English, they even bet on the little buggers…

Here is what the blog Teen Sleuth had to say about it:

The card in England’s Plumpton Racecourse includes a ten-strong Shetland Pony Champion Hurdle, on which the Tote runs a special pool as part of their between-races entertainment. There’s the Shetland Grand National – only the most nauseatingly adorable thing I’ve seen in my whole life…

The ponies are paraded around before the race, and there’s a commentator and pretend bookmakers. When the race begins, the chunky monkeys gallop at top speed, leaping over two-foot steeplechase fences. The little riders  - boys and girls age 9 – 13 under 5 feet tall and donning candy colored jockey silks - have to work to qualify for a coveted place among the 10 runners in the race, through a year of competing in riding disciplines like jumping, eventing, dressage and controlling their ponies at top speeds. 

It’s a huge honor to qualify for the race. The Shetland Pony Grand National is – naturally –  a big crowd-pleaser,  televised to much media attention every year. The British love racing, both on the flat and over jumps and they love their fuzzy-wuzzy, native ponies.

For some video of the shenanigans, click here

Maybe next year? 

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