Jockey, 10, saddles up and heads for the racecourse

York Press: Kieran Heslop with his pony Sparky at Selby.  Picture: Nigel Holland Kieran Heslop with his pony Sparky at Selby. Picture: Nigel Holland

A young jockey is preparing to head for the racecourse and take on the world - at the age of ten.

Kieran Heslop is already an experienced cross country rider, show jumper, dressage rider and one day event rider, but now he can add horse racing to his out-of-school activities.

He has just passed his British Racing School/Northern Racing College Level Three qualification, the minimum requirement for competitors in point to point pony races and racecourse pony races. He plans to be a professional jockey when he grows up.

"He is a natural," said his proud grandmother Patricia Heslop, with whom he lives in Flaxley Road, Selby. "He is quite a sportsman."

Kieran has already brought home many trophies, sashes and rosettes but until now has not been able to compete in the higher forms of pony racing because he didn't have the necessary qualification. Then he went on a course at the Northern Racing College in Doncaster and convinced the examiners he had the right skills.

When he isn't at school Kieran spends his time helping to look after the animals at his grandparents' stable including his own ponies on which he does the three-day eventing discipline. His racing pony Maximus is kept at Yorkshire Equine Academy's stables in Wakefield. He is only allowed to help out in the early morning during the holidays - on school days he is told he can sleep in.

"Otherwise his schoolwork would suffer," said Mrs Heslop, who admits to feeling a little nervous when Kieran competes, especially when it involves jumping, but he is keener on racing than show jumping.

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