Graduation Day at the 2018 PPORA Grassroots Awards Lunch
Images courtesy & copyright Darren Bird
New for this year are our Point to Point Graduate Award and Pony Racing Graduate Award, these tell the story of rising stars and fledgling talent, showcasing the close-knit relationship between Pony Racing, Point to Pointing and NH Racing.
Point to Pointing serves as a playing field for the true amateur and a stepping stone for the aspiring young rider with their sights set on a professional career in racing. Our sport’s contribution to the wider National Hunt landscape has never been clearer than this year when riders such as Harry Cobden, James Bowen, and Bryony Frost have been prominent Point to Point Alumni making their presence felt on racing’s big days.
The Point to Point Graduate Award, sponsored by Equine Health Centre, has been introduced to celebrate this type of achievement – be it human or equine – and to recognise the role that these graduates play as ambassadors for the sport.
The Pony Racing Graduate Award, sponsored by Len and Rose Vickery, has been introduced to highlight the role played by Pony Racing in providing youngsters with an ambition to race ride with the skills and experience that will enable them to rise successfully in Point to Points, it will be awarded to a rider who is a former Pony Racer and who has made a successful transition to racing over fences between the flags.
Our first Point to Point Graduate Award winner Bryony Frost exemplifies this progression emerging from the Pony Racing ranks, she rode in Points for 7 seasons, amassing 56 winners, before turning professional a year ago. Bryony was chosen for this award not just for her enviable success in the saddle but also for her great media presence, enthusiasm and good humour. She is a great ambassador for Point to Pointing and racing as well as a fantastic role model for women in racing and beyond.
Justin Chittenden from Equine Health Centre joined our guest speaker Richard Johnson to present Bryony with her award – a Birdie caricature incorporating Black Corton the horse who gave Bryony her first grade one success in the King George and who she described as an “absolute dude” and “my fairytale”.
Our first Pony Racing Graduate Award winner is Jack Tudor who having turned 16 on May 12th wasted no time kicking home his first winner, High Hatton at Holnicote, three days later – beating his great friend and this season’s leading newcomer Connor Brace into second place.
In the past 4 weeks Jack’s ridden a total of 3 winners, 2 seconds and 4 thirds, and he looks a decent bet to follow in his family’s footsteps – his father Jonathan partnered more than 70 winners between the flags, and his cousin James was National champion in 2006/7. Already looking forward to Pointing next season, Jack’s longer term ambition mirrors that of Connor, and progression to the professional ranks looks likely at a future point in time.