Grade One-winning trainer Tim Vaughan admitted he was the “proudest dad in the world” after watching his son Edward crowned 148cm and under Pony Racing Authority (PRA) Racecourse Series champion for the second time at Wincanton on Sunday 24th October.
The Welsh handler was overcome by emotion following the victory secured by the 14 year old aboard mare White Water in the series finale at the Somerset track to finish top of the championship, which he also claimed back in 2019, with 67 points.
Having finished second in the penultimate round at Cheltenham 24 hours earlier, Edward ensured his final race in the series would be a winning one when steering the 10 year old to victory from the Zak Kent-ridden The Green Monk.
The Cowbridge handler said: “He has made me the proudest dad in the world. He has lost a stone to ride in the race to ride at the right weight. All season he has wanted to win this one.
“He won the last final in 2019 and was crowned champion in the 148cm series back then and we enjoyed that but as this was his last ride he was a bit more emotional today.
“I’ve gone on a diet with him and it has been torture but we’ve been in it together as I wanted to show my support for him.
“We have had a good time celebrating it all as we stopped for a nice pub meal on the way back on Sunday then we went out and had another cracking meal in Cardiff on Monday.
“He is just a phenomenal child with a great work ethic and he deserves all the accolades.”
Edward’s victory at the weekend brings to an end what has been an outstanding few years on the pony racing circuit both in the UK and Ireland, during which time he also has become Irish pony racing champion (2019), PRA 148cm point-to-point champion (2018, 2019, 2021) and PRA 138cm point-to-point champion in 2018.
Arguably his finest moment however came when becoming the youngest ever rider at the age of 11 to win the Dingle Derby in 2019 aboard 2014 Champion Bumper winner Silver Concorde, who ran under the name of Ciderman.
Tim said: “There was nothing last year due to the Covd-19 pandemic but either side of that we have a lifetime of memories in three years.
“Tom Malone the bloodstock agent had purchased Silver Concorde especially for the Dingle Derby and it was only Edward’s third ride on a thoroughbred so that was a great story to come together.
“We got stuck into Edward early as unfortunately his dad's genetics has followed through. I couldn't be prouder of him.”
Fighting back the tears Edward thanked the organisers for giving him such an opportunity to showcase his talent in the saddle.
Edward said: “It is great to be here and the last couple of years have been a great thrill.
“My friends Freddie (Gingell) and Taylor (Fisher) are all moving on to the next thing. It has been a great learning curve and I’m grateful to have these opportunities.
“It has been tough but my friends at school have supported me along. The last six weeks have taken its toll but it has all been worth it. It’s been a great family effort so hopefully on to the next thing now.”
Reflecting on the victory Edward feels he got his tactics spot on aboard White Water after making the most of her assured stamina in the mile and a quarter prize.
He said: “Normally we take a lead into the race but no one was keen to go on. On that ground around this track I was keen to make it a stamina test so I had to take it up and luckily it came off.
“That was like the Gold Cup of pony racing. All the best ponies took each other on. I’m slightly emotional as it is my last ride.”
While a number of his rivals including 17 year old Taylor Fisher, who is now riding out for trainer Richard Hannon, will now pursue a career in racing, Edward has his focus set on getting all his exams passed before potentially going down that path.
Edward said: “The plan is to stay in school and get all my education done. Hopefully I can do a bit of pointing in between that.
“When all my education is done I will just have to see where my weight is. If I’m light enough to go conditional I would love to go down that route.
“If not, I will stay as an amateur for a while and take it from there.”
Organisers of the series, which has provided the launch pad to a number of high profile jockeys including Harry Cobden and Hollie Doyle, have hailed it a success, despite being faced with challenges presented to them by the coronavirus pandemic early in the year.
Clarissa Daly, spokeswoman for the Pony Racing Authority, said: “I’d like to thank all the racecourses for their support as when we were putting this together in March and April nobody knew if we would get back on a racecourse.
“We have had 20 fixtures this year and it has been great to give these kids these opportunities as a whole generation missed out last year.
“It has been a good summer and we have ended up having a great series.”