Widley ace shines after taking reins on national scheme

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Paul Nicholls on a recent visit to Fontwell Park / Picture by Malcolm Wells

Nicholls seeks success on Fontwell’s hunter-chase card

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Ben Colmer is galloping towards a career in horse racing.

The 11-year-old from Widley dreams of becoming a top jockey and riding winners at the biggest meetings.

And after just three years of lessons at Fort Widley Riding School, his target came a step closer when he earned a place on the Pony Racing Authority (PRA) youth training scheme.

One of only four successful applicants for the course at Appletree Stud in Banbury, Colmer now rides on the gallops of Oxfordshire trainer Paul Webber.

It has been an impressive rise for the Court Lane Junior School talent, who has never had a pony of his own.

And his mum Jo Colmer has revealed he is loving every minute of the intense schooling as he eyes his pony racing debut next season.

She said: ‘Ben is focusing on his scheme right now – a lot of it is based on his fitness.

‘He’s running two or three times a week as well as training on a mechanical racehorse.

‘He is also learning race-riding technique and racecourse etiquette.’

Colmer attented the British Racing School in Newmarket in May last year.

He passed his level one pony racing exam with flying colours and was invited back to take level two.

A 100-per-cent pass mark there – riding a pony from the Fort Widley Riding School – then saw him catch the eye of the PRA.

Colmer was advised to apply for a place on the 12-week youth training scheme.

A fully-funded course, it is the only one in the country for children aged 11 to 14 who don’t own their own pony.

The rider is now halfway through and impressing all the time.

He has been told he can continue to train at Appletree Stud beyond the end of the course.

However, that will have to be self-funded – leaving Colmer to look for sponsorship to continue his climb to the top of the sport.

But provided he can secure the extra cash required and keep up his good work, the British Racing School will consider him for their academy.

Jo Colmer said: ‘He’s sponsored at the moment by the Pony Racing Authority and the Horse Racing Society.

‘At the end of the course a former race jockey will assess him to deem him fit to race next season.

‘Appletree Stud are prepared for Ben to continue to attend for training and will support him in competing in pony races.

‘But funding will have to be met by ourselves therefore we will be looking for local sponsorship to enable him to continue with his dream of becoming a jockey.

‘The British Racing School have then requested Ben returns when he is 13 years to their sought-after academy.’

Colmer’s rise has been all the more remarkable given the lack of facilities in the Portsmouth area.

Fort Widley Riding School’s support has been key to his progress but the youngster’s mum has warned other talent may be missing out.

Jo Colmer said: ‘The only way to reach talent is through these schemes.

‘It’s a shame when there are children out there with a natural talent who, given the right opportunities, could achieve their dream.’

If you are interested in sponsoring Ben, email joanne.colmer@btinternet.com

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