POINT TO POINT RACING
What is Point-to-Point Racing?
The sport of Point-to-Point racing is Steeple Chase racing for amateur riders, on horses that have qualified to run by having been out hunting. The origins of the sport can be traced back to riders racing their hunters from one church steeple to another over natural countryside, and jumping whatever obstacles crossed their path.
The sport has evolved somewhat over the years and these days horses competing are thoroughbreds, other than in Hunt Members races, and run at organised meetings, over a designated course of fences, and as a regulated sport. Races are mainly run over a distance of 3 miles, and over steeple chase fences of approximately 4 feet 3 inches in height and made of birch. There are a few longer races (up to 4 miles) and a number of 2 ½ mile races for maiden horses.
Who runs Point-to-Point Racing?
The sport is run under the administrative body and governance of the Point-to-Point Authority (PPA), whilst regulated by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA).
The PPA is made up of four equal stakeholders - namely the Point-to-Point Secretaries Association (PPSA), Point-to-Point Owners & Riders Association (PPORA), Master of Foxhounds Association (MFHA), and the Jockey Club. All contribute to how the sport is run and consulted wherever there be any proposed Regulation changes, before reaching the PPA and BHA Boards for possible implementation ahead of the following season.
The sport’s Regulations (view the Point-to-Point Regulations) are based upon those under Rules, where protecting integrity, safety and welfare in racing are of paramount importance. All courses are inspected before and on the day of the Point-to-Point by independent BHA Course Inspectors, whilst the Stewards of the meeting are responsible for ensuring that racing is run fairly for all participants and public alike.
Where does Point-to-Pointing fit in with Racing under Rules?
The connection between the amateur sport of Point-to-Pointing and the professional world of “Jumps racing” remains as strong today as it ever has, serving as a long established breeding ground for emerging talents of jockeys, trainers and horses. This includes the likes of Richard Johnson, the second most winning Jump jockey in history and David Pipe one of the top Jumps trainers in the UK.
In more recent years there have been many young talents whose skills have been nurtured within this amateur sport, including the exceptionally talented jockey Sam Twiston-Davies and equally gifted young trainer Evan Williams. The horses that have progressed from this sport are endless, but perhaps two of the most prolific to have competed in British Point-to-Points before attaining stardom under Rules are Teeton Mill (winner of the 1998 King George VI Chase, 1998 Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup, 1999 Mitsubishi Shogun Ascot Chase) and See More Business (winner of the 1999 Cheltenham Gold Cup, 1997 & 1999 King George VI Chase, 1999 & 2000 Charlie Hall Chase, 2000 Aon Chase, 2000 Martell Cup, 2001 Pillar Property Chase).
There are increasingly more opportunities for younger horses in Point-to-Points, and incentives created to promote the sport’s important role in nurturing tomorrow’s talent under Rules, as well as creating a shop window for vendors of these horses. It should also be acknowledged that Point-to-Point racing can provide an excellent racing environment for older horses whose handicap rating may limit opportunities under rules or who are no longer suited to the rigours of Jump racing, yet still enjoy the game and have much to offer in the amateur ranks; including helping educate our future Jump jockeys of tomorrow.
When and where can I go to a Point-to-Point?
The season runs from the end of November up until June and features over 200 fixtures, the majority being held at weekends across the UK. Courses stretch from as far north as Balcormo Mains, Fife in Scotland to Trecoed in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and as far South West as Trebudannon in Cornwall (View the full 2011/12 fixture list). Many of these courses are located in beautiful surroundings, and in parts of the country where there would otherwise not be live racing. With 115 courses scheduling meetings, such number and variety of courses all attribute to the special and unique fabric of the sport, pulling together supporters from far and wide as well as strong support from the local community.
Where else can I find more information about the sport?
Whether you are a regular and seasoned Point-to-Point race-goer, or a complete newcomer eager to find out more about this exciting sport, there is a free online newsletter available called Go Pointing which is invaluable for all the information you need ahead of the forthcoming weekend’s meetings. In subscribing, you will receive details including admission prices, time of the first race, number of races and how to get there.
If you require more information about any aspects of the sport please visit the official Point-to-Point website. This includes:
Alternatively, do visit the contacts page to be put in touch with the relevant people or bodies to discuss any particular queries you may have.
Where can I obtain a Point-to-Point race schedule and copies of the Point-to-Point Regulations?
To purchase copies of the Point-to-Point Regulations or the Point-to-Point & Hunter Chase Planner (for race conditions) £30 (excl £2.50 postage), please contact the Point-to-Point Racing Company on 01933 304792.
How do I volunteer at a Point-to-Point?
Each Point-to-Point is run at a local level by a Hunt or recognised Point-to-Point Club. Meetings are costly to put on and as an amateur sport, they are reliant on the goodwill of enthusiasts to help put on the show. If you are interested in lending a hand and being part of a team integral for the staging a meeting, there are often a wide array of roles that often need filling. These range from valuable help in the preparation of the course and venue prior to the meeting, to organisational duties, fence attending and other vital official roles on the race-day.
For more information, visit our contacts page to contact your Area’s Point to Point Secretary to be out in touch with a local Fixture Organiser.
Take a look at this season's Pointer Magazine