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Amy Hunt, 13, qualifies for Shetland Pony Grand National
THE best things come in small packages – and one North Yorkshire teenager is proving that as she prepares to race in the Shetland Pony Grand National.
Despite having been riding competitively for only a year, Tadcaster Grammar School student Amy Hunt, 13, and her pony Riccalton Snowberry, will compete in this week’s event at the Olympia Exhibition Centre, part of the London International Horse Show.
Ahead of the race, Amy has also raised more than £300 for Great Ormond Street Hospital, the event’s chosen charity, by selling doughnuts at school.
Amy’s mum, Clare, said: “She’s also been getting sponsorship from local businesses and she’s holding her own riding class, all for Great Ormond Street.”
Amy grew up around ponies, learning to ride before she could walk and joining the Pony Club when she was nine, but she only began riding competitively at the age of 11 – taking to it immediately.
Clare joked: “We always say she rides her pony like she stole it.”
Amy is trained by Karen Nixon, who is based at Knix Stud, at Brompton-on-Swale, near Richmond.
Amy said: “Karen is really happy with me, especially as it is unusual for someone in their first year of competition to take part in the Shetland Pony Grand National.”
Pony racing has a strict height limit of 5ft 1ins, and competition is fierce for the ten places in the showpiece Grand National – one of the most popular events at the Olympia show since it was introduced in 1981. Amy, who is 4ft 7ins, was victorious in the Gatcombe Horse Trials in August.
That secured her place at Olympia, where she will be cheered on by friends and family who are travelling to the capital especially.
Amy, meanwhile, is hoping that her early competitive success could be the springboard to a riding career.
Her mum said: “She wants to be a jockey or a show-jumper when she’s older, but she’s not sure which just yet.”
Nicola Weatherill, head of Fairfax House at Tadcaster Grammar, said: “I am really pleased with Amy as she works towards fulfilling her dream of becoming a jockey.”
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