Shetlands show their athletic prowess

November 10, 2009

They're racing: shetland ponies and their young riders are back at the Royal Show this year.

It's horse racing, but not as most punters know it. Shetland racing is making its return to this week's Royal New Zealand Show in Christchurch, with the 11th running of the Shetland Grand National.

The 11 ponies and riders will take to the field for what has grown to become one of the major attractions at the show.

The riders, aged 7-13 and from around the Canterbury area, trained six days a week to get fit for raceday.

Their training programme builds up gradually over the weeks. In their final preparation the pace builds, with mock racing conditions added to their routine.

The field includes nine geldings and two mares, ranging in age from 5 to 22 years. It will be the first steeplechase experience for two of the ponies.

The colourful form guide provides some interesting insights:

Raceday Ponies:

Raceday jockeys:

Chelsea Brown, Molly Buist-Brown, Emma Bunn, Atiya Dein, Elise Dein, Nikita Gallop, Grace O'Sullivan, Kerryn O'Sullivan, Claudia Sullivan, Maia Waratini, Steffi Whitaker.

The race will be held at 3.10pm on Friday in the StableMate Arena.

The Royal New Zealand Show, which runs from November 11-13 at Canterbury Agricultural Park, Christchurch. attracting 120,000 people, more than 7000 livestock and feature competition entries and close to 600 trade exhibitors.