Jockey Jack is set for Olympia test
JACK Smith from Gloucester has been selected from hopefuls all over the country to compete at this year's Pony Club Mini Major at Olympia in The London International Horse Show.
The event, due to take place this afternoon, will include Olympians and professional riders including Nick Skelton, Ben Maher and Ellen Whittaker, all of whom will be showcasing their talent in front of a packed audience.
In his Mini Major competition, 12-year-old Smith and pony Romany River Bobby Sox will be paired with a world class rider in a show riding matchup 'against the clock'.
Both jockeys will run the same course in tandem, but over different heights.
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Smith is one of only eight children selected across the UK to take part in the prestigious event.
And for Smith, who currently rides for Ledbury Hunt Pony Club, it is a dream come true and possibly the start of something even bigger.
He said he was delighted at opportunity that lies in front of him.
"I'm proud of myself, overwhelmed and cannot wait to start," he said.
"It's all very exciting. My friends, teachers and headmaster are all very proud of me."
The young rider admitted that the recent Olympics has also had a big influence on his interest in the sport, while also admitting that horse riding could become a future career.
"The Olympics taught me the turns and positions that the jockeys use and this encouraged me to improve," he said. "If I get the chance, I want to be a professional when I'm older."
Smith, a pupil at Sir Thomas Rich's School in Gloucester, was encouraged into equestrian at a young age, having his first Shetland pony at the age of just two. With a family whose entire background is horse related, including fellow jockey Julian Smith being Jack's uncle, there is a sense of excitement surrounding the 12-year-old and his future within the sport.
And if successful, Smith will look to follow in the footsteps of his role model Ben Maher, who before winning gold this summer also evented at Olympia back in 2008.