Pony racing at the local Point to Points is always a high point of my spring. I love to watch the kids before the race when they are gathered in a circle around the steward going over the rules while a sibling, parent or friend walks the pony around the paddock; I love to watch the kids get on their ponies and head off to the start behind the outriders; and mostly I love to watch them run to the finish with an intensity and competitive spirit that transcends their young age. This year at the Plumsted Races the competition was fierce and friendly.
The local Point to Points are frequently an incubator for future jockeys, owners and trainers. You get the bug early and you can’t leave it behind. This year the female jockey at the Kentucky Derby, Rosie Napravnik, has Unionville connections that go back to her days as a pony jockey in those same Point to Points. Her older sister, Jazz, now a trainer in Maryland and a former pony jockey herself, lived in Unionville where Rosie joined her and galloped for Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Shepperd at the tender age of thirteen. Rosie then left for Maryland to work with trainers there and later found a home at Delaware Park, about a half an hour distant, where last year she was the leading rider.
At the Fair Hill Races in spring 2000 she rode her pony in the races there and then, back at the barn with her friends, showed us how she had been taught to vault onto her pony by big sister Jazz. It was an extraordinary performance. She was so light and lithe.
The following year at the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup in the fall she was helping with the horses in the paddock.
I have succumbed to Kentucky Derby fever this year because of Rosie Napravnik, the female jockey aboard Pants on Fire who drew the number seven spot. Racing in the hot pink and orange silks of owners George and Lori Hall she will be hard to miss.