TEENAGE jockey Sam Burton is looking forward to the experience of riding under the England banner when he represents his country in Ireland next month.
Burton, from Calne, is one of 18 young riders selected in the England team that will take on their Irish counterparts in the second Kerry International Pony Championships at Tralee racecourse, which take place during the Rose of Tralee Festival on August 16-17.
Burton, 14, rides six times a week at Roger Charlton’s stables in Beckhampton and can’t wait to race against some of Ireland’s best youngsters in the 15 hands competition.
“I’ve been riding since I was nine years old and at one of the races last year, I got asked if I’d be interested in racing in Ireland – it looks really exciting, so I said yes,” said Burton, who joins the likes of Abbie McCain, daughter of Red Rum’s trainer Ginger McCain and Jonjo O’Neill’s son AJ.
“It’s quite a privilege to be picked and I think it’s going to be fun racing against the Irish, because they’re always good. I’ve got three horses. We own Just Cruzin and we’ve got Cool Runner and Just Jack on loan but they’re going to give us rides out there.
“They’ll just sit us down and say ‘go race’.
“It probably is the biggest thing I’ve ever done.”
Burton, whose ride Just Cruzin is based at the family yard in Oare, near Pewsey, will be accompanied by dad Gerald in Ireland.
Mum Alex says that riding runs in the family.
“His father and grandfather both rode and he’s got two brothers too. Danny rides for Alan King and his other brother Wayne did ride but he was paralysed in a fall at Exeter,” she said.
“The riders were picked on their results from all of the races over the last year or so and he’s done really well to get selected alongside the children of some of the biggest trainers around.
“This is a bit of a different competition because there’s actually prize money, which you don’t get with the ponies in this country.”
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