British Track to Experiment With Lead Ponies

British racing will experiment with the use of lead ponies to accompany horses to the start at the upcoming meeting at Haydock, one of Great Britain's 59 racecourses.

Kirkland Tellwright, clerk of the course at the Lancashire track, revealed that trainers are behind the initiative and that it will be a on a voluntary basis.

"Trainers have been asking the Jockey Club about this issue, and it has also been raised at a meeting of the racecourse association's technical group," he said.

"We offered to trial it. Trainers will have to provide the pony and rider, and their horse will go to the start either early or late – probably early. If you've got a fractious horse, this will serve as an opportunity to help the trainer get the horse to the start.

"It's common in the U.S. and, with tracks like Ascot attracting international runners, this trial will give us a chance to de-bug any concerns now rather than later. But I wouldn't expect the practice to become that widespread in Britain."

However, the three all-weather courses in Britain (Lingfield, Southwell and Wolverhampton), who race frequently, are interested in having ponies at all their fixtures in order to either prevent horses getting loose and delaying starts, or to capture any loose horses.