The PPORA is delighted to announce that this season we will be sponsoring two extremely talented and exciting jockeys, Natalya Irvine and Ben Sutton. Both Natalya and Ben were the National Novice Champions for the 2020/21 season, each racking up an impressive number of wins, despite a Covid-interrupted season.
Natalya enters her third season riding pointing and is looking to regain the novice rider’s title as she’s under the five-winner threshold. With a 30% strike rate and working full-time for National champion trainer, Tom Ellis, it’s safe to say Irvine stands in good stead for a repeat victory. She racked up all of her four wins last season on her family-owned gelding Blazing Tom, with an exciting win on Champions Day at Kingston Blount clinching the title. This season she will again be riding the 10-year-old gelding, who, having won all of his races last season and has a 50% strike rate, will surely keep Natalya’s name at the top end of the leaderboard. Irvine is also keen to start having some rides in Hunter Chases this season. Natalya’s introduction to pointing developed during her Pony Club days, whilst competing in the tetrathlon area qualifier and staying with point-to-point trainers Fred and Caroline Hutsby. Once old enough, Caroline asked Natalya if she’d like to ride out for a couple of weeks during the school holidays, and she never left! Natalya studied at Moreton Morrell College whilst working with the pointers around lectures and going racing on the weekends. Her keenness for multi-event sports has not ceased, as Natalya still enjoys competing in triathlons during the summer which channels her competitive energy and keeps her fit during the off-season!
Ben, son of point-to-point owner and former jockey himself, Nick Sutton, has a notable strike rate of 27% from his 43 starts, and on the final day of last season having never before ridden a double, scored a treble to secure his top spot for the novice title. For the upcoming season, Ben has 6 horses to ride both in points and under rules, either in training with Sam Loxton or Alan Hill. Ben is currently a part-time work-rider at the Hill yard which helps with fitness and he’s always eager to pick up outside rides, as well as having his eyes set on higher targets for the upcoming season, including rides in hunter chases and Foxhunters’. With his experienced ride 13-year-old Sir Mangan ready for another season, as well as high-class Diplomate Sivola, Ben is well supported to continue his winning ways. Ben was introduced to pointing from a young age when his father was riding and has always been eager to follow in his footsteps. However, he’s keen to do one better, with his pointing career aim being to ride the most winners in his family; we look forward to watching Ben chase down that personal title!
Over the season Ben & Natalya will be sharing monthly blogs on the PPORA website, not only chatting about their rides but also day-to-day life as a point-to-point jockey and we look forward to sharing them with you! We wish them both well for the season and look forward to seeing the PPORA Logo in the Winners enclosure.
Images kindly provided by Neale Blackburn Chasdog Photography & Hattie Austin Photography