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Former Pony Club riders no ‘one trick ponies’ as teens target racing careers


Teenagers from regional Western Australia have been honing their skills on thoroughbreds as they embark on exciting career paths in the local racing industry. 

Last month, Racing and Wagering WA (RWWA) in partnership with Pony Clubs WA (PCWA) hosted five young riders aged 13 – 17 at the Pinjarra racecourse for the final event of the “Speed to Safety” program, the culmination of more than 12 months of work and five previous events.  

Speed to Safety, now in its second year, is a Careers in Racing initiative which aims to teach pony club riders how to ride track work in a safe environment and on the surface of a real racecourse.

Kalam Thompson, Shannon Meakins, Ruby Weightman, Hannah Fitzgerald and Matilda Hall all have aspirations of taking on careers with horses and within the racing industry when they were old enough.

Kalam and his Off the Track (OTT) thoroughbred Marco attended two training days at Lark Hill and Pinjarra to qualify for the final and Kalam wore the OTT silks at the final at Pinjarra. 

Kalam is aiming to finish year 12 and then start working for a racing stable in management and training. Shannon aspires to be a jockey and Ruby would like to be a trainer when she grows up. 

Training days have been held at local racecourses across the state to provide an opportunity for all young riders in Western Australia, with over 35 children participating in the program during the last year. 

In order to qualify for the final, riders must be able to ride track work as close as possible to the optimum time set in accordance to their graded times; the training days also doubled as qualifiers for the final at Pinjarra. 

The challenge is for riders to complete 1000m at a prescribed pace of 550m per minute and count the seconds between markers which tests the skill of the riders. 

Initiatives such as the Speed to Safety programme not only help to expose young riders to racing, but also provide them with a chance to build on important riding skills that can be applied across all disciplines within the equestrian world.

RWWA is committed to promoting and educating young riders about the career opportunities that are available within the racing industry and is proud to be a principle sponsor of the Pony Club Association Western Australia. 

RWWA is the Principle Racing Authority for racing in Western Australia and is responsible for fostering the development, promoting the welfare and ensuring the integrity of the industry.

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