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Jane Badger Books

Josephine Pullein-Thompson: Pony Club Cup (paperback)

Josephine Pullein-Thompson: Pony Club Cup (paperback)


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No one likes the Woodbury Pony Club, not even its members. They're so awful, they don't think they're up to entering the competition for second division pony clubs like them. And then they get a new District Commissioner – but what can an ex-jockey teach them and their terrible ponies? Quite a lot, it turns out, if you're prepared to be open minded. Wild, whirling Jupiter and his hapless owner Hanif, and ewe-necked Saffron, grudgingly hired for Alice for the holidays by her aunt, can be improved. There is hope. They might even be able to enter for the cup ...

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“I shouldn't think it could get worse. I mean fewer and people are turning up, and you can't blame them the instruction's so useless,” said James Morgan gloomily, as he rode dark-brown Ferdinand along the lane, walking stride for stride with Jennifer Blacker's Sea King. “Rallies weren't much fun when Mrs Smythe was D.C., but at least you learned a bit.”

“Yes, and she always got really good people to instruct the top ride, but now we're in the top ride we still have Janet or Julia or Mr Foster's working pupils taking us. And those working pupils are pathetic, all theory. They don't ride as well as we do,” complained Jennifer in a voice of deep disgust.

“We're only in the top ride because all the older members have stopped coming,” James pointed out. “I do hope this new bloke fizzes things up a bit.”

“But I don't see how an ex-jockey for D.C. can improve things. They only know how to ride in races.”

“He's an ex-jump jockey, so with any luck he'll have us belting over steeplechase fences,” said James, his solid face brightening.

“Well I'm not going to risk spoiling King just as he's begun to win,” Jennifer spoke decidedly, as she patted her pony's bright bay neck. “I'm going to have another go at Mummy about transferring to the Cranford Vale. They're a decent pony club, much the best round here. They had a team in practically all the finals last year. The trouble is that their rallies are such miles away. It's too far to hack and Mummy says that with petrol the price it is, she can't afford to use the trailer for rallies as well as shows.”

“Hadn't you better hang on for a bit and see if things improve?” suggested James.

“No, I'm not going to bother with it any more. If Mummy won't let me transfer I'll just give up the pony club,” said Jennifer, her pale, flat face set in obstinate lines. “How can a smashed-up jockey know anything about proper riding?”

“David Lumley knows a lot.”

James and Jennifer turned in their saddles to see Paul Roberts jogging along behind them on his little black pony, Banjo. Paul was small for his age, which was eleven, had a small neat face which matched the rest of him, and serious grey eyes. He had listened to their conversation and now forced himself to speak up.
“David was in the pony club when he was young. He did a lot of ordinary riding and then he took to breaking and schooling and riding in horse trials before he became a National Hunt jockey. He was top class, and all set to be Champion Jockey when he had his smash.”

“You know this Lumley bloke?” asked James in surprise.

“Yes, you see my sister Lynne and I live at Garland Farm. Well, David Lumley lives in the farmhouse and we live in the cottages and my father runs the farm for him,” explained Paul, wishing that Lynne, who was a year older, would stop giggling with Netti Wheeler and Sarah Rooke and help him stand up for David.

“All the rallies are going to be held over at our place, at Garland Farm, in future,” he told them.

“Yes, we know that, Mrs Rooke announced it. But what's he like?”

“My mother knows all about him,” Lesley Rooke, who'd been riding alone as usual—no one really liked her—pulled up when she heard James's question. “He wasn't all that keen to be D.C.,” she went on, the sun glinting on her thick-lensed glasses as she kicked her pretty chestnut pony, Stardust, closer to the group. “Someone on the pony club committee heard that Mr Lumley had shut himself up and was moping, because he can't ride any more, so they decided he needed something to occupy him and talked him into it.”

“He's not going to be much good if he's not really interested,” said James gloomily.

“Well, there isn't anyone else. People round here won't take on thankless tasks like the pony club. My mother doesn't really want to be secretary—it's a lot of work—but no one else will do it.” Lesley's wide, slightly cow-like face, with its broad nose and thick lips, looked pleased at this proof of meanness in local people.

“I think David is quite interested now that he's made up his mind to it,” objected Paul. “He and Dad have been talking over which fields they'll use and things like that. But it's how he's going to manage, being so lame and having an arm that doesn't work at all; he can't lift a jump or buckle a bridle ... “.

“He sounds a bit of a wreck to me,” grumbled James.

Page length: 228

Original publication date: 1983

Who's in the book?

Human: David Lumley, Sarah, Lesley and Mrs Rooke, Paul, Lynne and Mr and Mrs Roberts, Alice Drummond, Hanif (Harry) Franklin, James Morgan, Rupert, Elizabeth, Nettie and Oliver Wheeler, Jennifer Blacker, Tina Spencer
Equines: Stardust, Chess, Berry, Banjo, Saffron, Jupiter, Ferdinand, Rosie, Rajah, Tristram, Hobbit, Sea King

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