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Young Cockfield jockey rides to pony racing glory
A TALENTED young jockey from Teesdale has ridden his way to a national pony racing trophy.
Charlie Todd is just 11, but steered his five-year-old thoroughbred mare Little Anne to glory in the 138cm and under section of the Charles Owen Pony Racing series, taking part in 19 races held at some of the country's leading courses, such as York and Aintree.
The duo's success earned them a berth at the pony racing finals day at Newmarket earlier this month, where they finished a creditable third.
Although pony racing has existed in the UK for many years, it only became a formalised sport in 2004 and is designed for young jockeys up to the age of 15.
Mum Lynda said it had been a remarkable year for Charlie and Little Anne, who is stabled at Gainford.
She said Charlie only took delivery of Little Anne at the start of the year after his previous horse had succumbed to colic.
The pair ride out weekly at Denton-based trainer Michael Dods' gallops.
Despite his pony racing success, there are a busy few weeks ahead for Charlie, who along with sister Jessica, rides with the Zetland Hunt.
Later this month he is going to Newmarket where his horsemanship skills will be tested for the British Racing School Level 3 exam.
Then the week before Christmas he will take his place on the start line for the Shetland Pony Grand National at Olympia, in London.
He will be riding Eastlands Mighty Mark, owned by Karen Hixon, from Knix Stud, Brompton-on-Swale, and raising money for Great Ormond Street Hospital.
The new year sees the start of the new point to point season and then Charlie will be back in the saddle for the 2013 Charles Owen pony racing season in April.
Charlie said that despite his pony racing success, he wasn't sure if he wanted to pursue life as a jockey.
However, he said he hoped to work with horses in some form.
His mother said the family, who live in Cockfield, owed a debt of thanks to staff at Staindrop School who had been very accommodating, allowing Charlie to attend race meetings throughout the season.