Author Helen Haraldsen has found a winning pony in her Cover Star Competition, which drew hundreds of entries from as far away as New Zealand, searching for a perfect lookalike for Helen’s own childhood pony.

The winner will now star on the cover of the third book in the Amber’s Pony Tales series, which is due for release in May this year and will be launched at the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials.

Helen, who teaches English and runs the school library at Keswick School in the Lake District, is an author of pony books, based on Helen’s own ponies from her childhood.

Helen received hundreds of pictures in response to this year’s competition, but only thirteen were accepted, on the grounds that they had to be high-quality images and had to bear a strong resemblance to the main pony character in the book: Molly, who was a real pony Helen owned as a child.

Unlike the last competition, this time, Helen received two local entries from Cumbria, who, after the votes were counted, came first and second in the competition, thanks to lots of local support.

The winner of the competition is Strawberry, a fun-loving chestnut mare who is half thoroughbred and owned by 11-year-old Myla Postlethwaite-Todd, from St Bees.

The pair have only been together since October 2019 but already have a great bond due to being very well matched with similar personalities. The photograph of Strawberry was taken by local amateur photographer Neil Routledge.

Both of the covers of her first two books have been designed by ‘Let’s Get Booked’ and the pony model of the second book was also found through Helen’s ‘Cover Star Competition’.

Myla said: “After reading Little Pearl and The Second Best Pony, Helen soon became one of my favourite authors. Her books are so realistic and show the true challenges of owning ponies and competing.

“When I saw the competition, I noticed that Strawberry is very similar looking to Helen’s old pony Molly, so I begged my Mum to enter. Mum asked a friend (Neil Routledge) who is a keen photographer for advice and he kindly offered to take the photo. We are members of the Wyndham Pony Club, as were Helen and Molly, so many of my pony friends voted for us and supported me.”

“Waiting for the results was so tense and exciting! Helen kept the suspense going by releasing the results a bit at a time; we sat at home refreshing the emails every three minutes. When the results came out I jumped up and down, so ecstatic knowing that my pony will be on the front cover of a book that I can keep forever.”

Helen said: “I’m delighted that a local pony has won. As the books are published by a new local publisher, Elterwater Press, based in Cockermouth, it’s great to have this local connection. And it’s amazing that Myla and Strawberry are members of the same branch of the Pony Club I was in with Molly.

“Even better, Myla has read the first two books in the series and now her pony will be on the cover of the third. I look forward to following their progress as they get out and about competing this season.”

“The saying is ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ but of course we all do and it’s vital that books have shelf appeal, so finding the right image for the cover is vital.”

“I ran the competition last year for The Second Best Pony as I thought it would be a good way to get people involved with the books. It far exceeded my expectations as nearly 1500 people voted last year, with Greenholme Clyde from Scotland being the clear winner. The resulting book cover is absolutely beautiful and I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome so I decided to run the competition again this year to find a pony for the cover of the third book.”

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