With the season now reaching full swing, one could be forgiven for taking one’s eye off what lies ahead and just around the corner. So it was refreshing when the Point-to-Point Authority (PPA) announced it has drawn together individuals from the sport’s key stakeholding bodies to form a “race programming” committee.
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA), Master of Foxhounds Association (MFHA), Point-to-Point Secretaries Association (PPSA), Point-to-Point Owners & Riders Association (PPORA), the Jockey Club and the Press Office will all have representation on the committee which, put very simply, has been tasked with encouraging more participants into the sport — both equine and human.
The committee will deliberate key issues such as race planning, penalty structures, retention of participants, economic impact, communications, sponsorship, costs and relationships, regulation and qualifications.
I do not envy the task of those sitting on the committee, because the solutions to existing challenges are not straightforward to implement and will require buy-in across the sport. Nevertheless, race programming is something that must be embraced and scrutinised if point-to-pointing is to prosper in years to come.
As a stakeholder and southern area jockeys’ representative on the PPORA committee, I will be voicing my thoughts on the matter at the next PPORA meeting and I would encourage everyone to contact their local association rep to do the same. We have to act now to bear the fruit of our labour in the future.
One issue I will raise is the scheduling of hunter chases on weekends clashing with point-to-points. At a time when horse and rider numbers are low, this further dilutes the pool of available participants and races like the three-runner hunter chase (Fontwell, 22 February) do nothing to promote our sport. This is something that should be high on the race programming committee’s agenda.
Ref: H&H 12 March, 2015